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Somalia facing complex immediate and long-term challenges, UN Security Council told



A wide view of the Security Council Chamber as Michael Keating (left on screen), Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), briefs the Council via video link. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

13 September 2017 – Highlighting complex immediate and long-term challenges in Somalia, the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in the country (UNSOM) called for practical support, as well as political encouragement to the Somali leadership, both at the Federal and the state levels.

“The worst of the famine threat has been averted [but] damage to lives and livelihoods, particularly women, children and marginalised groups, has been extensive,” said Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, briefing the Security Council.

“An imperative for Somalis is to escape the vicious cycle of recurring weather-related shocks,” he added.

Another pressing issue before the country, Mr. Keating said, is of political problems becoming complicated by ill-defined relationships between various branches of the State, and in such a situation, the Federal Government’s management of the situation to prevent them from threatening progress on core objectives and the stability of the state was crucial.

In that context, he highlighted that the working relationship between the President and the Prime Minister as well as the determination of the federal Government to deliver “tangible economic and security benefits” for the population is very encouraging.

He also highlighted progress on preparing and passing important laws, such as the Telecommunications Bill and the Human Rights Commission Act, and said that completing the constitutional review was a critical task for the successful holding of elections in 2020-2021.

“The legislative framework and agreement on the electoral model are urgently needed,” he said, adding that these would help dispel scepticism on whether Somalia can move away from the so-called “4.5 model” to universal suffrage.

Realizing vast economic potential depends on addressing political issues
Highlighting the country’s economic potential in sectors ranging from agribusiness, livestock, fisheries, trade to renewable and other energy sources, Mr. Keating stressed that realizing the potential is contingent upon success in reaching a political settlement between the Government and the private sector, as well as on Government policies and capacities to implement them.

“A critical requirement will be raising revenues, whether from domestic sources or by accessing concessional finance,” he said, noting the Prime Minister’s appeal for immediate budget support to allow the Government to deliver on jobs and security, and to strengthen relations with Federal Member States by means of fiscal transfers.

The UN envoy also informed the Security Council of the UN-World Bank collaboration to devise a “surge support” package for public works, and urged partners to follow the European Union (EU), Norway and Sweden’s lead to use Recurrent Cost and Reform Financing Facility to that end.

Mogadishu is safer, but larger security situation volatile
Further in his briefing, Mr. Keating noted security improvements in the capital, Mogadishu, but added that the Al-Shabaab terrorist groups continues remains a potent threat that the overall security situation in Somalia remains volatile.

“Addressing insecurity and the continuing threat from Al-Shabaab requires vigorous implementation of the National Security Architecture Agreement and of the Comprehensive Approach to Security,” he said, noting that international partners have started working on its components.

He also underscored the need to ensure predictable funding for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) given that it continues to play an indispensable role in protecting Somali progress and people and as national security forces are not yet ready to shoulder full responsibilities.

At the same time, Mr. Keating added, support should also continue for the Somali security forces to strengthen their capacity.

Concluding his briefing, he informed that the UN is working with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the African Union, the European Union (EU) and other partners to strengthen national conflict resolution capacities as well as to facilitate agreements in specific locations.


Anglo-Turkish Genel Energy might starting drilling in Somaliland in 2019 -CEO



LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) – Kurdistan-focused Genel Energy might start drilling in Somaliland next year, Chief Executive Murat Ozgul said on Thursday, as the group reported 2017 results broadly in line with expectations.

“For the long term, I really like (our) Somaliland exploration assets. It’s giving me a sense of Kurdistan 15 years ago,” Ozgul said in a phone interview. “In 2019 we may be (starting) the drilling activities.”

Chief Financial Officer Esa Ikaheimonen said Genel will focus spending money from its $162 million cash pile on its existing assets in Kurdistan but added: “You might see us finding opportunities… somewhere outside Kurdistan.”

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Africa is on the verge of forming the largest free trade area since the World Trade Organization



CNBC — According to the African Union, this would consolidate a market of 1.2 billion people, and a gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.

But, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni have both snubbed the summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

African heads of state have gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, to sign a free trade agreement that would result in the largest free trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

Leaders are poised to approve the African Continental Free Trade Area, a deal that will unite the 55 member countries of the African Union in tariff-free trade.

The agreement is touted by the African Union as encompassing a market of 1.2 billion people, and a gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion. It is hoped that it will encourage Africa’s trade to diversify away from its traditional commodity exports outside of the continent, the volatile prices of which have hurt the economies of many countries.

“Less than 20 percent of Africa’s trade is internal,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame, also currently chairperson of the African Union, said in a speech Tuesday. “Increasing intra-African trade, however, does not mean doing less business with the rest of the world.”

But, the deal has its critics. It was announced over the weekend that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari would not be attending the summit, despite his federal cabinet last week approving the deal. “This is to allow more time for input from Nigerian stakeholders,” said an official statement from the foreign ministry.

The agreement is opposed by the Nigeria Labour Congress, an umbrella organization for trade unions in the country.

“Given the size of its economy, population, and given its political clout, Nigeria’s stance towards the African Continental Free Trade Area is key,” Imad Mesdoua, senior consultant for Africa at Control Risks, a global risk consultancy with offices in Lagos, told CNBC via email. Nigeria is the continent’s most populous nation and considered by some metrics to be sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy.

“There is a general sentiment among (labor unions and industry bodies) that Nigeria’s export capacity in non-oil sectors isn’t sufficiently robust yet to expose itself to external competition,” Mesdoua said.

The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, also called off his visit at the last minute, although it remains unclear as to why.

Africa’s population is expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050, according to the African Union. By this time it will account for 26 percent of the world’s working age population. Talks for the African Continental Free Trade Area began in June 2015.
Should the agreement be signed, second phase talks are expected to begin later this year. These will focus on investment, competition and intellectual property rights.

According to a study published by the United Nations last month, the deal will lead to long-term welfare gains of approximately $16.1 billion, after a calculated $4.1 billion in tariff revenue losses. But, the report did warn that benefits and costs might not be distributed evenly across the African continent.

In principle, a free trade area across Africa “makes perfect economic sense,” Ben Payton, head of Africa at risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, told CNBC via email.

But, he added: “The biggest risk is that African countries would be unable to effectively enforce external customs controls. For example, this would mean cheap Chinese goods that are imported into Ghana could eventually cross various African borders without further controls and make it into Nigeria. This problem already exists, but a free trade area would potentially make it worse.”

The World Trade Organization was formed in 1995 and comprises of 164 members.

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At least 14 dead, several hurt in car bomb in Somali capital



ABC — At least 14 people were killed and 10 others wounded in a car bomb blast near a hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, Somali officials said Thursday.

Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the explosion occurred near the Weheliye hotel on the busy Makka Almukarramah road. The road has been a target of attacks in the past by the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.

Most of the casualties were passers-by and traders, Hussein told The Associated Press. The toll of dead and wounded was announced by security ministry spokesman Abdulaziz Hildhiban.

Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the blast. The group frequently attacks Mogadishu’s high-profile areas such as hotels and military checkpoints. A truck bombing in October killed 512 people in the country’s deadliest-ever attack. Only a few attacks since 9/11 have killed more people. Al-Shabab was blamed.

Thursday’s blast comes almost exactly a month after two car bomb explosions in Mogadishu shattered a months-long period of calm in the city, killing at least 21 people.

The Horn of Africa nation continues to struggle to counter the Islamic extremist group. Concerns have been high over plans to hand over the country’s security to Somalia’s own forces as a 21,000-strong African Union force begins a withdrawal that is expected to be complete in 2020.

The U.S. military, which has stepped up efforts against al-Shabab in the past year with dozens of drone strikes, has said Somali forces are not yet ready.

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