We, the Finance Ministers of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, together with representatives of our three Development Partners (African Development Bank, European Union, and World Bank) and the Executive Secretary of IGAD met on Tuesday 26 May 2020 to take stock of the ongoing crisis and recovery efforts in the Horn of Africa region.
Ministers affirmed that the region is facing a triple crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting massive economic and social shock; the largest locust outbreak in more than two decades, and the resulting food insecurity. Countries and the leadership in the region remain strongly committed to pursuing close cooperation as part of the overall recovery strategy and efforts.
Our meeting underscored the critical role of the Horn of Africa Initiative (HoAI) in supporting current recovery efforts and in strengthening our growth, poverty reduction and resilience to shocks. After reviewing the status of HoAI’s priority package of regional initiatives announced in October 2019, we concluded that while the overall package remains highly relevant, it could benefit from further re-prioritization designed to enable the region to ‘recover better and faster.’
The meeting recalled that the HoAI is based on four pillars:
- (i) improving regional infrastructure connectivity;
- (ii) promoting trade and economic integration;
- (iii) building the resilience of vulnerable communities and groups; and
- (iv) strengthening human capital development.
We and our DPs acknowledged the important regional dimensions of recovery from the current crisis, and that the HoAI provides a suitable platform for countries to act decisively and in a coordinated manner. We further underscored our resolve to maintain momentum and foster closer cooperation in our crisis response. Moreover, we committed to taking necessary steps to address, in a coordinated manner, the key policy, regulatory and institutional barriers that currently
hinder deeper integration, while improving physical connectivity.
We have, to this end, unanimously agreed to work together to further strengthen the Trade, Resilience and Human Capital pillars under HoAI. The May 26, 2020 discussions built on high-level exchanges between us and DP started in the past. We have, therefore, requested the three DPs to help advance the HoAI towards its implementation stage; by funding projects and accelerating diagnostic and feasibility studies, where they are needed. We also commit to working with our DP on an outreach strategy targeting other donors and the private sector to join in supporting this Initiative.
The HoAI financing forum is planned for mid-October 2020. We welcome the opportunity to raise private and concessional financing to supplement our own domestic resources. We affirm our commitment to ensuring continued close coordination between our countries during the implementation phase of the Initiative. To this end, we mandate the technical and operational teams to alert our leadership of obstacles that may hinder the timely achievement of the initiative’s overall goals. As Djibouti is currently chairing the Initiative, a temporary Secretariat, housed at the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Djibouti and overseen by the Ministry’s Secretary-General, has been established to follow up and coordinate technical aspects of the initiative.
We take note of IGAD’s accumulated knowledge of the region and pledged to
collaborate with it closely. We have asked the Secretariat to ensure proper coordination and commit to reinforce the synergy between IGAD’s work and that of HoAI; starting with the mapping of ongoing activities on the ground, to avoid unnecessary duplications. We note with gratitude the significance of the regional COVID-19 response being coordinated by IGAD, and the financing provided by Development Partners to address these challenges. Going forward, we have decided to invite the Republic of Sudan to future ministerial meetings so as to enhance regional coordination in areas relevant
to the Initiative.
We welcome the reconfirmed commitment of the three DPs to support the HoAI financially, notably in 2021 and subsequent years, as well as technically. To concretize this commitment, we have requested project concepts to be discussed with technical counterparts and finalised as soon as possible. Additionally, we call on project-specific financing plans as well as broader financing options– including the private sector — to be fully considered. Lastly, though cognizant of the present global economic challenges, we call upon the international community–including the private sector, to wholeheartedly support the Initiative by financing its implementation phase.