As information continues to trickle out slowly regarding the current state of affairs between Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Tigray, I will be able to offer updates. As of now, news regarding the atrocities associated with the current conflict is scattered and difficult to determine which is the most reliable. It appears that blame for the atrocities occurring in Tigray right now is based on each group involved passing the blame. Each group seems to be blaming the others, while journalist access to Tigray remains limited at best. I am posting a link to a recent NY Times article on the issues until the COVID-19 pandemic is under control enough for allowing access by the journalists on the ground. It is often difficult to determine where blame lies during such times, and international law and justice does not move quickly. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/05/world/africa/ethiopia-tigray-conflict-explained.html
To update this it must be stated that this was written shortly after Ahmed had won the Nobel. Recent developments in the Tigray Region are why they should wait for a body of humanitarian work before awards. This is a clear violation of countless human rights and Ahmed needs to provide better answers than he has to attempted to date. I will update as soon as I have enough information. Unfortunately I have been too busy to stay fully up to date. I will soon update.
This is a part of a climate negotiations exercise during a class project. I think that it is useful as it discusses the challenges faced in this part of the world and a personal pitch for improving the living and financial positions for some of the world’s most vulnerable and exploited people. This was written in October 2019, and a bit has changed since then.
Under the leadership of Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, the nation of Ethiopia has committed itself to enhance the livelihoods and wellbeing of Africans through the development of renewable energy sources and promoting trade liberalisation (Allo 2019). Africa currently has more than 70% of the world’s poorest people, with 377 million living on less than $1.90/day (Hamel et al. 2019). Ethiopia however; is on track to lift those living in extreme poverty from 25.6% to 3.9% to fulfil United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 1 by 2030 (Hamel et al. 2019). Ethiopia currently has approximately 60 million citizens who do not have access to regular sources of electricity (enelfoundation.org 2019). To ensure that the Horn of Africa and the entire area of Sub-Saharan Africa receives access to electricity, PM Abiy Ahmed has taken a stance of “Horn First” while promoting and developing partnerships with a multitude of global actors.
Ethiopia is committed to meeting the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target to become 1.5C compatible. However, we are currently only able to reach 2.0C targets without external assistance (climateactiontracker.org). Among the problems that Ethiopia faces with reaching energy independence, meeting the 1.5C compliance of the Paris Agreement, and fully transitioning to renewable energy sources, we need to develop modern technologies. Ethiopia currently relies heavily upon hydroelectric power, but this is too prone to the negative impacts of climate change which alter global rainfall patterns (worldbank.org 2019). Ethiopia is committed through its National Adaptation Plan (NAP-ETH) to expand its renewable energy sectors while attempting to leapfrog “to modern and energy-efficient technologies” in all sectors (unfccc.int, 2). Because Ethiopia is located in a region where all sectors of agriculture and energy are susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change (along with all of Sub-Saharan Africa), we have developed a long-term program to reduce our nation’s vulnerability to climate change, while enhancing economic growth (unfccc.int, 4). Among Sub-Saharan nations, Ethiopia enjoys a 10.7% “economic growth rate” which is approximately 5.2%higher than other nations in the region (worldbank.org 2015). Around 19% of this economic growth can be attributed to the artisanal mining sector which accounts for approximately 66%of mining, with precious minerals such as gold accounting for about 90% of that economic output (worldbank.org 2015, eiti.org 2019). It is through this precious mineral mining sector, accompanied by multilateral trade negotiation that Ethiopia plans to move forward to our SDG and economic goals.
Due to the issues listed above, Ethiopia needs the help of outside nations to develop the technologies required to make Sub-Saharan Africa not only energy independent, but we also need to be able to enhance our financial sector as well. Ethiopia, as well as the rest of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, is home to a wealth of precious minerals required for the manufacturing of electronic devices, such as those used in renewable technologies. To requisition technocratic assistance in developing renewable energy sources which do not rely upon hydroelectric power, Ethiopia has entered trade negotiations with China and France.
France, after seeing the destruction caused by the Fukushima disaster in Japan (paired with social movements), has decided to move away from nuclear power and transition to more renewable energy sources (France position statement). France still holds a presence in its former colony of the Central African Republic (CAR), which holds a vast wealth of precious metals and diamonds which are used to manufacture electronic devices (bbc.co.uk 2018). In exchange for access to a trade route between CAR and the Horn of Africa, along with access to precious minerals available through artisanal mining in Ethiopia, France has agreed to invest £50-200 million to build factories that will produce renewable energy devices such as those which harness wind, solar, and geothermal energy sources. Ethiopia has requested that France assist in developing the technology required to harness these energy sources as they are less prone to the negative impacts of climate change. In exchange for the economic benefits that France will gain from new trade routes and the development of French-run factories in Ethiopia, France has agreed to reduce their presence in Africa gradually, and they will continue to gain financially. France’s commitment to the building of renewable energy device factories in Ethiopia will provide numerous employment opportunities, while also training Ethiopians in the methods to develop these technologies. This will enhance the technical knowledge of Ethiopia, allowing for the technology “leapfrog” effect. Establishing a factory in Ethiopia will also make it easier to ship these devices and technologies across Africa, providing clean electricity to millions.
China has committed to establishing trade from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where they currently hold a transactional relationship with the government to build infrastructure in exchange for precious minerals (Hoffman et al. 2018, 116). The DRC alone is home to an estimated $24 trillion in natural resources, and China will now be able to ship mineral resources to the Horn of Africa (instead of the 25 mile coastline in the DRC) located on the opposite coast of Africa, preventing them from having to ship the same cargo past the Cape of Africa (Kabemba 2016, 76). In exchange for access to an easier trade route and a significantly more extensive coastline for shipping, China has agreed to offer both technocratic assistance to move Sub-Saharan Africa, allowing the region to become energy independent through renewable sources. The free trade route between Africa and China for precious metals required for electronic devices, and more specifically renewable energy sources will employ many Africans. China will also ship raw materials to the Ethiopia, where they will be used in the French factories to produce renewable energy devices and advance technical knowledge.
China and France will also benefit from being able to reframe the argument around “conflict minerals” or 3TG metals (enoughproject.org 2017). These conflict minerals have been a source of international outrage as they have been mined under the same circumstances as “conflict diamonds” (Arikan et al. 2017, 470). China and France will offer protection for artisanal miners in these nations, as that method has been shown to be the most environmentally sound, while increasing the wealth and livelihoods of millions in Africa (Jameson et al. 2016, 1384). France and China can both advance as ethical leaders in the mining of “conflict minerals,” as by promoting ethical mining practices will remove the word “conflict” and allow for free and fair trade. In this manner, all three nations (along with Africa) will benefit from the development of renewable technologies, while promoting the ethical trading of $24 trillion in mineral resources, or the national deficits of Europe and the US combined as of 2016 (Jameson et al. 2015, 1384). This is in line with the model of peace talks, trade liberalisation, and liberal interdependence that Abiy Ahmed has been pushing since being elected PM of Ethiopia.
During class activities, I found that there was an incredibly positive atmosphere between all students playing as various actors. There was an air of potential that can only be seen when the ego of national policies, political agendas, and personal gains was removed. Students showed up to class with every intention of forming a deal with another actor, and these deals were often very positive. The classroom activity was the embodiment of Alexander Wendt’s paper “Anarchy is what States Make of it” (Wendt 1992). The classroom activity showed what can be possible when the concept of absolute sovereignty is left at the door. A famous statement about the nature of sovereignty from Thomas Hobbes states “fear and I were born twins together” as he was born during an invasion and spent part of his life fleeing from political danger (philosophynow.org). This statement highlights the fear that nations perceive when dealing with others when living in a world of anarchy, as in the end, each nation must rely on its own devices for protection, and politicians must always placate their constituency or fear not getting re-elected. It was a refreshing exercise that separated students from the statement by Thucydides as he levelled Melos telling them that they could not rely on their allies for help (Zaretsky 2019). Every aspect of the deal that I made with China and France has every chance of failing as China is not willing to concede sovereignty to another nation. France must deal with the European Union (EU) trade frameworks to make any trade deal with another nation, as France has pooled a portion of their sovereignty to join the EU. Political discourse is encouraging. It provides hope for the future when you see the next group of future political academics and potential politicians entering a room with a desire to see trade and humanity flourish because they do not feel the same way about the concept of absolute sovereignty as their predecessors. This was a fantastic exercise in fostering hope for the future during a time when everything seems uncertain.
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