Mogadishu, 3 May 2019 – The European Union is organizing a major regional economic conference for the Horn of Africa countries as part of its efforts to foster peace and promote sustainable development in the continent.
The conference is being organized jointly with the World Bank and the Ethiopian government and will be held in July, this year, in the capital, Addis Ababa.
“The focus of the conference will be on regional infrastructure in energy and transport sectors, trade, including the development of the financial services, value chains, and the regulatory environment, and human capital development through improvement of education and skills,” Fulgencio Garrido Ruiz, the EU Charge d’affaires to Somalia, said during celebrations to mark Europe Day in the Somali capital, yesterday.
The planned regional economic conference, Mr. Ruiz noted, follows a thawing of relations between Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia, paving way for even greater cooperation.
“Transforming the region will not only require political commitment and leadership but also sound economic strategies to keep pace with the expectations of the people of the region,” he observed.
The Horn of Africa countries comprise Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti. Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, has been at the forefront in advocating for peaceful coexistence and greater economic cooperation among the four countries since his appointment in April last year.
Present at the function were top Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) officials, led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Isse Awad; the African Union Special Representative for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, UN officials and members of the diplomatic corps.
Mr. Awad welcomed plans to hold a regional conference, noting that the idea fits well with the aspirations of many residents, which is achieving a fully integrated Africa by 2063.
“We appreciate your support and we look forward to more cooperation on bilateral arrangements as our region moves towards closer political cooperation and economic integration and as the whole of Africa moves towards achieving its vision by 2063,” he added.
The minister hailed the cordial relationship between Somalia and the EU and implored his fellow citizens to borrow a leaf from Europeans who emerged stronger after years of conflict and civil war.
He appealed to the EU to help build state institutions in Somalia, which he noted, is one of the hallmarks of a modern state.
“I appeal to the European member states to engage Somalia directly namely the federal government; the federal member states and help the country strengthen its institutions so that successive governments can have an opportunity to serve the citizens in best ways,” Minister Awad stated.
The EU is the biggest funder to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), having provided more than1.3 billion euros since 2007.
It is also the biggest donor to Somalia, supporting programmes focusing on state building, economic growth, and stabilisation and poverty reduction among others.