Press Review CW 40/2023: Faced with criticism
Press Review 29 September 2023 to 6 October 2023

EU resumes financial cooperation with Ethiopia

The European Union (EU) has resumed cooperation with Ethiopia, pledging 650 million euros in assistance to the country. Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, presented the EU’s multi-annual financial program with Ethiopia for the period 2024-2027 which aims to gradually normalize relations between the EU and Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa on Tuesday. Originally, the EU had earmarked one billion euros for cooperation with Ethiopia over the period 2021-2027, but the EU ended its budget support to Ethiopia in January 2021 shortly after the start of the armed conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray province. Meanwhile, direct budget support to the Ethiopian government remains suspended and is to resume only after certain political conditions are met, although Urpilainen did not elaborate on these except to say that Ethiopia must agree to a reform program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Meanwhile, the support now pledged runs under the banner of the EU’s Global Gateway Initiative and is mainly spread across three policy areas: 260 million euros for structural reforms to promote innovation and private investment for Ethiopia’s green transition, 228 million euros for reconstruction after the conflict and the provision of basic services to the population, and 156 million euros for peacekeeping and good governance. Accordingly, the EU hopes to stabilise Ethiopia’s domestic situation, consolidate peace and bring about economic recovery in the country on the Horn of Africa, whose two-year civil war claimed thousands of lives before a peace agreement formally ended it last November. Human rights organisations, meanwhile, are critical of the financial pledges because Ethiopia recently tried to block a UN investigation into possible human rights crimes committed during the civil war and, according to UN experts, violent attacks continue to occur in northern Ethiopia despite the peace agreement. At the end of July, for example, there were clashes in the northern Ethiopian region of Amhara in which, according to the United Nations, at least 183 people were killed, and there were also renewed clashes in Tigray. Last week, Human Rights Watch called on the EU to submit a resolution to the UN Human Rights Council to ensure the continuation of the UN war crimes investigation. However, the deadline to do so expired unused a day after the EU and Ethiopia announced the resumption of cooperation, meaning the UN investigation will be terminated later this month.

Ghana’s opposition calls for resignation of central bank chief

Demonstrations demanding the resignation of Central Bank Governor Ernest Addison took place in the Ghanaian capital Accra on Tuesday. Hundreds of demonstrators, largely supporters of the leading opposition party National Democratic Congress (NDC) and other opposition groups, expressed their displeasure with the current economic situation in the country. Ghana’s opposition has already been calling on the 60-year-old governor of the central bank (Bank of Ghana, BoG) to resign via social media for several days using the slogan #OccupyBoG. Under Addison’s auspices, the central bank posted a record loss of the equivalent of five billion US dollars last year. Critics accuse Addison of overprinting money and thus financing the allegedly lavish lifestyle and governance of President Nana Akufo-Addo and the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). Addison is therefore held partly responsible for the rapid inflation of over 40%, the high cost of living and the enormous national debt that are increasingly burdening the country’s population. In fact, Ghana is one of the most indebted countries on the African continent, with a debt of 58 billion US dollars, which corresponds to about 105% of the gross domestic product. As recently as May of this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pledged another 3 billion US dollar loan to Ghana in an effort to stabilise and rebalance its economy. Like other economies in the region, Ghana continues to suffer from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine. Its dependence on exports of commodities such as unprocessed minerals, agricultural raw materials and crude oil, which together account for over 80% of the country’s total exports, makes Ghana vulnerable to external shocks, experts say. The country is among the world’s largest exporters of cocoa and gold. Although Ghana was able to increase export revenues from gold by about 32% to around 6.6 billion US dollars in 2022, replacing South Africa as Africa’s leading gold exporter, the revised growth rate of only 1.5% for the Ghanaian economy falls well short of expectations. Against this backdrop, Ghana will hold presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2024. As he will have served two four-year terms by then, President Akufo-Addo will not be allowed to run again according to the constitution. The primaries of the ruling party NPP are to take place in the coming months. Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia is currently considered the favourite for the presidential candidacy of the NPP. Meanwhile, already in May this year, the NDC nominated John Mahama as its candidate for the presidential election. Mahama already held the highest office of the West African country for four years from 2012, but was defeated by Akufo-Addo in his bid for re-election in 2016 as well as in the 2020 elections.

 

In other news

On Wednesday, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) announced Morocco as one of the hosts of the 2030 World Cup. A total of 48 football teams will compete in the tournament, which will be held from June to July 2030. In addition to Morocco, Portugal and Spain will also host the World Cup. Additionally, there will be three matches in Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay to mark the centenary of the competition, which was first held in Uruguay in 1930. Morocco’s candidacy is to be formally confirmed next year at a meeting of the 211 member associations. Morocco will be the second country on the African continent to host a World Cup, following South Africa. The decision is seen as a success for Morocco, which has invested heavily in its infrastructure in recent years and was already announced as the host of the Africa Cup of Nations 2025.

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