What’s in Blue: Djibouti/Eritrea Consultations – 20 February

  • What’s in Blue, a website dedicated to UN Security Council news, reports that Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, was expected to brief Council members in consultations on Eritrea-Djibouti relations on 21 February.
  • Details of the briefing are yet to be released. DiCarlo’s speech was meant to be based on a letter by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, which refers to the rapprochement between Eritrea and Ethiopia as a “historic moment” and notes that “Djibouti maintains that its unresolved differences with Eritrea constitute a threat to Djibouti itself, and to international peace and security. Therefore, Djibouti wishes to have its border dispute with Eritrea resolved through a binding international arbitration.”
  • The letter stated that it “has been keen to stress the complexity and difficulty of regional transformation and its determination to avoid errors…while emphasizing a holistic approach to the normalization of all inter-state relations in the Horn of Africa and hoping for more progress in this regard, including in its relations with Djibouti.”
  • What’s in Blue says that “Council members are likely to welcome efforts being made to help improve relations between Djibouti and Eritrea”.



Financial Times: Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed: Africa’s new talisman – 21 February

  • The Financial Times publishes the first interview given to international media by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
  • The FT says that Abiy “has overseen the swiftest political liberalisation in Ethiopia’s more than 2,000-year history. He has made peace with Eritrea; freed 60,000 political prisoners, including every journalist previously detained; unbanned opposition groups once deemed terrorist organisations; and appointed women to half his cabinet. He has pledged free elections in 2020 and made a prominent opposition activist head of the electoral commission. In a country where government spies were ubiquitous, people feel free to express opinions that a year ago would have had them clapped in jail.”
  • The FT says that “Mr Abiy says he wants to secure peace by persuasion, not through military pacification.” Abiy tells the FT: “Negative peace is possible as long as you have a strong army. We are heading to positive peace.”
  • Abiy concludes: “I will be popular if I lift 60m-70m people out of poverty […]. If I do that, whether I like it or not, you will magnify my name.”

Glasgow Live: Police confirm identity of woman, 30, who fell to her death from 11th floor Glasgow flat window – 21 February

  • Glasgow Live reports that an Eritrean woman who fell from an 11th floor window on 18 February has been named as Alem Shimeni.
  • Detective Inspector Aileen Boyle from the Major Investigation Team said: “Officers are continuing to gather every detail possible on Alem’s death.” The death of the young woman is currently treated as suspicious.
  • Police are asking witnesses to come forward with information. Alem had been living in the Milton area in Glasgow.

UN OCHA: Eritrea: Strategic Partnership Cooperation Framework 2017 – 2021: Funding Snapshot – 22 February

  • ReliefWeb publishes a “funding snapshot” from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the current Eritrea Strategic Partnership Cooperation Framework (SPCF), established in 2017 and running through to 2021.
  • The document summarises the progress of funding as to 31 December 2018. The latest SPCF’s funding requirements are $328.7 million, which includes $193.1 million of unmet funding to date.
  • The funding is set to meet the requirements of four main development areas: (1) basic social services; (2) environmental sustainability, sustainability, resilience and disaster risk management; (3) public sector capacity development; and (4) inclusive growth, food security and sustainable livelihoods.

Quartz: How two Eritrean brothers built a solar power business in some of Africa riskiest markets – 22 February

  • Quartz reports on the Aptech Africa, a start-up solar energy company founded by two Eritrean brothers – Ghirmay Abraham and Metkel Zerai – recently named one of the London Stock Exchange Group’s “Companies to Inspire Africa in 2019.”
  • Ghirmay and Metkel started their company in South Sudan in 2011 with $5,000 of their savings and with the help of family, who contributed $15,000. After a profitable first six months, the company was entangled in the war in Juba, South Sudan, and the brothers lost $160,000 worth of stock.
  • The firm had been relocated in Uganda since 2012 and the Eritrean entrepreneurs decided to expand to the Ugandan market, where at least 500,000 Ugandan households are said to be connected to solar energy.
  • Aptech is currently piloting a pay-as-you-go solar water pump in collaboration with a local firm in Uganda. Instead of paying $1,700 upfront, they offer a system where customers pay off the solar pump over one year, with monthly instalments of around $140.
  • While financing remains an issue for Aptech, Ghirmay and Metkel hope to be operating in 13 countries by 2025. Quartz reports that “[w]hen asked about working back in Eritrea, both brothers are effusive, ‘oh yes, that’s a dream’.”


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