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Sudan Partnership Conference: EU mobilises more support for Sudan’s transition

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Sudan, the European Union, Germany, and the United Nations co-hosted a virtual High-Level Sudan Partnership Conference.

The Joint Communiqué adopted by the participants, confirmed the support of the international community to the democratic and economic transition in Sudan headed by the civilian-led transitional Government.

In addition to displaying strong political support to the ongoing transition, partners pledged a total of $1.8 billion (€1.6 billion), with Team Europe – which includes the EU institutions and the EU Member States – providing $867 million (€770 million) in development andhumanitarian funding. Of this amount, the European Commission is contributing €312.25 million for medium and longer-term development assistance, immediate humanitarian aid, and support to stability and peace. This contribution comes at a critical moment, as the coronavirus pandemic further exacerbates the difficult socio-economic situation in the country.

Josep Borrell, High Representative/Vice-President, said: “History is in the making in Sudan. Supporting the transition here and now is not only an expression of solidarity, but an investment worth making: for Sudan, for stability and development in the region, and in order to set an example for the world. For any transition to be sustainable, people need to see concrete and quick dividends, hence our mobilization today. The message we send to the Sudanese people is clear: we will not fail you.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “This conference marks the start of a renewed partnership between Sudan and the international community. Today’s EU pledge will economically empower women and youth, support social and economic development and the ambitious reforms of the civilian-led transitional Government, as well as strengthen stability and peace. Of this, €93 million will contribute to the Sudan Family Support Programme, which will allow Sudan to move ahead with critical economic reforms, laying the foundations of a social protection system. Sudan will be a priority partner for the EU for 2021 and beyond.

Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “Today’s support will help vulnerable Sudanese from sliding further below the poverty line. We are stepping up our humanitarian assistance in Sudan, as the country and its people are going through a fragile transition and face major challenges, worsened by the locust outbreak and the global coronavirus pandemic. The EU continues to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable in Sudan and our support to them is crucial in these unprecedented times.”

EU support for Sudan’s economic reforms, social protection and immediate humanitarian needs

Today’s funding pledged by the European Commission includes:

  • €251.75 million in development funding. This includes €93 million to help start Sudan’s Family Support programme, which will be managed by the World Bank. The programme will deliver social assistance and cash transfers to vulnerable households, and contribute to developing an effective and comprehensive Government-owned social protection system, while addressing the immediate economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the most vulnerable. It also includes €65 million to finance four new programmes that will help improve public finance management, women and youth’s economic empowerment, human rights, and the civic space. €93.75 million will further support the political transition and the most vulnerable populations.
  • €60.5 million in humanitarian funding to help provide for the critical needs of the most vulnerable people. The EU has already announced €31.5 million in humanitarian aid for Sudan in 2020. The European Commission is mobilising an additional €29 million to provide further food assistance, especially in the context of the desert locust outbreak in the region, to increase access to health care for vulnerable people, including those affected by the coronavirus and to respond to new emergencies. €20 million of this package is subject to the approval of the budgetary authority.

Around 50 stakeholders, including international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, participated in the conference. The World Bank committed to providing an additional pre-arrears clearance grant up to $400 million (€355 million).

The Conference was opened by a panel discussion between Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of Sudan, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations and. This discussion took stock of the achievements of the Sudanese political transition so far, as well as the challenges ahead. The EU pledge was delivered by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.

Background

Since 2016, the EU has supported the Sudanese population and the high number of refugees it hosts with development aid up to €242 million, mostly through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. These funds have been used, among others, to promote peace, support women and youth’s economic empowerment, and ensure inclusive and sustainable growth for all. Since the civilian-led Government took office in early September 2019, the EU has provided €88 million in development assistance to support political and economic reforms and contribute to stability and peace in Sudan.

Since 2011, humanitarian action in Sudan has been supported with around €580 million, including the amount pledged today. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, two EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights were organised to Sudan , helping humanitarian relief items and staff to reach the people in need at a time where transport constraints are posing an additional challenge. So far, it is the biggest operation of the EU Humanitarian Air Bridge in terms of the total number of humanitarian workers and cargo taken together.

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Africa Today

World Bank to support reconstruction plan for Cabo Delgado in Mozambique

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Image source: Wikipedia

The World Bank will provide US$100 million (€86 million) to support the Mozambican government in the reconstruction plan for Cabo Delgado, a province affected by incursions by armed groups since 2017, an official source announced Monday.

“With the recently reconquered areas, we have realised that there are many people who want to return to their areas of origin. But they cannot return without the basic conditions being in place. As a result, we have an additional 100 million dollars for support,” said Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Mozambique.

She was speaking to the media, moments after a meeting between the Mozambican prime minister, Carlos Agostinho do Rosário, and heads of diplomatic missions to discuss the Cabo Delgado Reconstruction Plan.

According to her, the new World Bank support comes on top of a first donation (also totalling US$100 million), announced in April and which was earmarked for the Northern Integrated Development Agency (ADIN), which is promoting social and economic projects for youth inclusion across northern Mozambique.

In the new donation, which is expected to be disbursed in January, the World Bank wants the money to be invested in the reconquered areas in the north of the province, and psychosocial support, reconstruction of public buildings and restoration of basic services are among the priorities.

“The idea is to give the affected people a decent place to live after the traumas they have suffered,” she said.

The Reconstruction Plan for Cabo Delgado, approved in September by the Mozambican government, is budgeted at US$300 million (258 million euros), of which almost US$200 million (172 million euros) is earmarked for the implementation of short-term actions, which include restoring public administration, health units, schools, energy, water supply, amongst other aspects.

According to the deputy minister of Industry and Trade, Ludovina Bernardo, the priority of the executive is to ensure a gradual and safe return of the inhabitants to the reconquered areas, at the same time as basic conditions are created.

“We want to make interventions on the ground, but safeguarding security. Our forces are on the ground and as soon as they ensure that the return of families to their areas of origin is possible, the process will begin”, he said, pointing, as an example, to the return of families from Palma, which has already begun.

The United Nations resident representative in Mozambique, Myrta Kaulard, also gave assurances that the organisation would continue to support the Mozambican government in the process, highlighting the importance of the “classic interventions” of the entity in cases of humanitarian crises.

“I would like to remind you that on the humanitarian side, international partners have contributed, in the year 2021 alone, a total of 160 million dollars (137 million euros). It is important to continue with this humanitarian support, while promoting reconstruction,” she stressed and highlighted the importance of creating a working group among international partners to combine actions and broaden appeals in the face of the humanitarian crisis in Northern Mozambique.

Cabo Delgado province is rich in natural gas but has been terrorised since 2017 by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the extremist group Islamic State.

The conflict has led to more than 3,100 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and more than 824,000 displaced people, according to updates from Mozambican authorities.

Since July, an offensive by government troops with support from Rwanda, later joined by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), allowed for an increase in security, recovering several areas where there was rebel presence, including the town of Mocímboa da Praia, which had been occupied since August 2020.

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Nigeria becomes the first country in Africa to roll out Digital Currency

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The Central Bank of Nigeria joined a growing list of emerging markets betting on digital money to cut transaction costs and boost participation in the formal financial system.

“Nigeria has become the first country in Africa, and one of the first in the world to introduce a digital currency to her citizens,” President Muhammadu Buhari said in televised speech at the launch in Abuja, the capital. “The adoption of the central bank digital currency and its underlying technology, called blockchain, can increase Nigeria’s gross domestic product by $29 billion over the next 10 years.”

The International Monetary Fund projects GDP for Africa’s largest economy to be $480 billion in 2021.

The issuance of the digital currency, called the eNaira, comes after the central bank earlier in February outlawed banks and financial institutions from transacting or operating in cryptocurrencies as they posed a threat to the financial system.

Since the launch of the eNaira platform, it’s received more than 2.5 million daily visits, with 33 banks integrated on the platform, 500 million c ($1.2 million) successfully minted and more than 2,000 customers onboarded, central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said at the launch.

Central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, are national currency — unlike their crypto counterparts, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which are prized, in part, because they are not tied to fiat currency. The eNaira will complement the physical naira, which has weakened 5.6% this year despite the central bank’s efforts to stabilize the currency.

“The eNaira and the physical naira will have the same value and will always exchange at one naira to one eNaira,” Emefiele said.

The digital currency is expected to boost cross-border trade and financial inclusion, make transactions more efficient as well as improve monetary policy, according to the central bank.

“Alongside digital innovations, CBDCs can foster economic growth through better economic activities, increase remittances, improve financial inclusion and make monetary policy more effective,” Buhari said. Digital money can also “help move many more people and businesses from the informal into the formal sector, thereby increasing the tax base of the country,” he said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria in August selected Bitt Inc. as a technical partner to help create the currency that was initially due to be introduced on Oct. 1.

Nigeria joins the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in being among the first jurisdictions in the world to roll out national digital currencies. China launched a pilot version of its “digital renminbi” earlier this year. In Africa, nations from Ghana to South Africa are testing digital forms of their legal tender to allow for faster and cheaper money transactions, without losing control over their monetary systems.

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UN chief condemns ‘ongoing military coup’ in Sudan

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Protesters take to streets in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. UN Sudan/Ayman Suliman

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres on Monday condemned the “ongoing military coup” in Sudan, saying Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and all other officials, “must be released immediately.” 

Long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by the military following months of popular protest in April 2019, and a transitional government was set up comprising both military and civilian leadership, after a power-sharing agreement, that was due to lead to full democratic elections in 2023. 

Now, according to news agencies, Sudan’s military has dissolved civilian rule, arrested political leaders and declared a state of emergency. Protesters have reportedly taken to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, and there are reports of gunfire. 

In a statement posted on Twitter, the Secretary-General said that “there must be full respect for the constitutional charter to protect the hard-won political transition.” 

The UN will continue to stand with the people of Sudan”, Mr. Guterres assured. 

Progress in jeopardy 

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also condemned the attempted coup. 

“These actions threaten the Juba Peace Agreement and jeopardize the important progress made towards democracy and respect for human rights”, Michelle Bachelet said. 

She called on military authorities to abide by the constitutional order and international law, withdraw from the streets, and resolve any differences with civilian leaders serving on the Transitional Council through dialogue and negotiation. 

“I utterly deplore the reported arrest of the Prime Minister, several Ministers, leaders of the Forces of the Freedom and Change and other civil society representatives, and call for their immediate release”, she continued.  

Communication systems down 

Ms. Bachelet also pointed out reports that the internet is down in the country and other means of communication are suspended.  

Blanket internet shutdowns contravene international law, and Internet and mobile services must be restored, as they are essential for people to seek and receive information, particularly in these unsettling circumstances”, she explained.  

She asked military and security forces to refrain from unnecessary and disproportionate use of force, to respect people’s freedom of expression, as well as the right of peaceful assembly. 

According to her, “it would be disastrous if Sudan goes backwards after finally bringing an end to decades of repressive dictatorship.” 

“The country needs to move forward to consolidate democracy, a wish expressed countless times by the Sudanese people, including loudly and clearly on the streets last week and today”, she added.  

UN Mission 

The head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission Sudan (UNITAMS), also released a statement, declaring that the arrests of the Prime Minister, government officials and other politicians are “unacceptable.”  

“I call on the security forces to immediately release those who have been unlawfully detained or placed under house arrest”, Volker Perthes said. “It is the responsibility of these forces to ensure the security and wellbeing of people in their custody.”  

The UNITAMS chief, who acts as a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, also urged everyone involved to exercise the utmost restraint.  

“All parties must immediately return to dialogue and engage in good faith to restore the constitutional order”, Mr. Perthes concluded. 

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