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African Union calls for cautious implement-
ation of transition plan in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The African Union top envoy for Somalia has called for a cautious implementation of the recently endorsed transition plan to help protect gains made in stabilizing the country.

Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, also voiced support for the transition plan which represents a significant change in the planning and delivery of security in the Horn of Africa nation.

“All our commanders have said yes to the transition. All of them without exception; the sector commanders who bear the brunt of this war despite all the challenges said yes to the transition,” he said in a statement released on Thursday evening.

The AU envoy who was presiding at a medal awards ceremony for 21 staff officers, who will be rotating out of the Mission after completing their tour of duty, noted that the transition is a necessity, driven by a number of factors but should be implemented cautiously, so as not to erode the gains made in Somalia over the last decade.

“We need to transition because the Somalis want us to transition, because the partners feel that we should transition and we are going to transition, but, frankly, and in all honesty, we would not want to see the things that we won with so much sacrifice to go down the drain,” said Madeira.

Madeira noted that the transition plan must involve the people of Somalia.

“We need to straighten up this place but we cannot do it without the Somalis. We have to hand over to people who are prepared to receive it and hold it and keep it and even improve it further, and that is the challenge,” said Madeira.

AMISOM has developed conditions-based transition plan, to transfer the national security responsibility from the AU troops to the Somali security forces guided by the rule of law and respect for human rights.

In 2017, the UN Security Council authorized a gradual troop reduction amid transition of security responsibility to Somali National Security Forces.



COMESA approves admission of Somalia

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Ministers of Justice and Attorney-Generals from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) on Friday adopted an agreement for accession of Somalia to the regional bloc’s treaty.

The adoption of the Agreement for Accession of Somalia to the COMESA Treaty was done during a one-day meeting of ministers held in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, and paves the way for the country’s admission to the regional bloc at the next Summit this year.

The adoption of the agreement follows the successful conclusion of negotiations between Somalia and the COMESA Bureau of the Council of Ministers that took place early this week in the Zambian capital, according to a statement from the COMESA secretariat.

The admission of Somalia will increase the number of members of Africa’s largest trading bloc to 20.

According to the statement, the ministers also adopted the COMESA Airspace Agreement aimed at achieving a seamless airspace for the region which will lead to enhanced competition in air travel and efficiency.

This is in addition to reducing costs of regional air travel and providing value for money in air services, it added.

Given Lubinda, Zambia’s Minister of Justice, who opened the meeting, said the high cost of doing business in the regional bloc was largely due to high transport costs, adding that the COMESA seamless airspace program will continue bringing down the cost of air transport in the region.


UN says tropical cyclone causes destruction in northern Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- A powerful tropical cyclone which formed in the Gulf of Aden has caused heavy rains in northern Somalia in the past two days, destroying houses and leaving about 2,000 livestock dead, the UN said on Saturday.

In its Flash Update on the Tropical Cyclone Sagar, the UN office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that the heavy rains were expected along the coastline of  Somaliland on Saturday afternoon.

“Authorities and humanitarians are closely monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Puntland and Somaliland,” said the UN humanitarian agency.

It said in Puntland, heavy rainfall was observed in the northern area of Bari, with Bareeda, Caluula, Murcanyo, Gumbax, and some parts of Xaabo being among the worst affected areas.

“Around 35 houses and 15 small boats were destroyed, while 56 camels, nearly 1,260 goats and sheep and 19 donkeys died. In the ancient coastal town of Lasqoray, houses in Habarshiro and Ceel Buh were also affected by flash flooding,” said the UN.

It noted that huge ocean waves were experienced in coastal areas on Thursday and Friday, with most of the affected people displaced or moved to higher ground.

Sagar was named by UK Meteorological Office on Wednesday, after beginning life as a tropical depression (1A) in the Gulf of Aden.

The UN office adds the forecast appears to be as severe as the 2013 Somali Cyclone, but slightly below the severity of the 2008 Yemen Cyclone. However, much will depend upon the track of the cyclone over the coming days.

The UN has warned that severe flash flooding and river flooding across the region will lead to a loss of human life, livestock, and the destruction of crops, property and infrastructure. 


Somalia to set up internet exchange point to enhance digital services

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somalia on Wednesday announced plans to establish the country’s first Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Mogadishu to help enhance digital services across the country.

Abdi Ashur Hassan, the Minister of Post, Telecom and Technology, said establishing the first IXP is a very positive step forward in building Somalia’s ICT infrastructure which will enhance the digital services being offered by local institutions in business, education, health, government services.

“We want this infrastructure to be owned and managed by the stakeholders. I hope you will discuss and come up with the best governance model for MogIX and form an interim committee from the community that will run the facility,” Hassan told participants at a forum in Mogadishu.

He said his ministry and its partner organizations, such as World Bank and Packet Clearing House (PCH) would only help establish the facility, but noted that the government wants the local internet providers to run it in the best interest of both the sector and consumers.

The minister said the IXP will allow local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to connect their networks and exchange Internet traffic locally, providing high-bandwidth and low-latency access.

Nisha Goburdhan, an IXP expert from Packet Clearing House (PCH), said a domestic IXP could serve as a catalyst for developing local content and local Internet applications.

Goburdhan said MogIX would provide an incentive for entrepreneurs and innovators to create local Internet-based services that take advantage of the availability of more local bandwidth.

Representatives from telecom operators, ISPs, academia, content providers, government and Somali Network Operators Group expressed their interest in joining MogIX.



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