Last week, Kenya hosted a high-ranking delegation of international development partners and donors. The overriding message from the United Nations, World Bank, European Union, Islamic Development Bank Group and the African Development Bank was on the interdependence of peace and development.
To this end, some of these institutions pledged Sh716 billion to support peace and development in the Horn of Africa, which covers Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.
At State House, Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta said: “We are guided by the fundamental understanding that together we can achieve the positive transformation of our region.”
The money pledged is by far the largest investment dedicated towards a cause that has remained elusive on the continent; whether it bears fruit is something yet to be seen.
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President Kenyatta promised Kenya would continue to devote its resources and expertise to building a stable region that integrates economically to achieve inclusive prosperity.
The visit came on the heels of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund slashing the continent’s economic growth outlook due to threats from Ebola and persistent attacks from militant groups.
The World Bank lowered its forecast for economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa to 4.6 per cent this year from 5.2 per cent in April. The IMF revised its outlook to 5.1 per cent from an earlier estimate of 5.4 per cent.
“Now is a crucial moment to ... end the cycles of conflict and poverty, and move from fragility to sustainability,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim added that there is greater opportunity now for the Horn of Africa to address drought, conflict and food and water insecurity by building up its security, generating a peace dividend, especially among the youth, and spurring more cross-border co-operation.
Kenya has received its fair share of terror threats and attacks, especially in Nairobi and Mombasa, and the tourism sector is still reeling from the shocks of these. Further, inter-community aggressions threaten to frustrate efforts to make meaningful use of the country’s resources.
“The security situation in several parts of sub-Saharan Africa remains fragile,” the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook released last month. “The fiscal position is weakening in a few countries on the back of rising current expenditures.”
But on a positive note, a new World Bank paper forecasts that the Horn will undergo dramatic and lasting change when oil production starts in Kenya, Uganda, and possibly Somalia and Ethiopia.
The region has some of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and huge, untapped natural resources.