On 5 July, Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs will arrive in Djibouti to meet President Ismail Omar Guelleh, Prime Minister Dileita, and seven other government members.
During his meeting with government officials, Piebalgs will discuss issues of governance and strengthened co-operation between the EU and Djibouti, particularly in the areas of energy, water and sanitation. Exchanges will also cover more general topics of poverty alleviation and how the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved in Djibouti.
There have alfready been several EU projects in Djibouti – following a drought in 2008-09 the Commission, through its Humanitarian Aid
and Civil Protection department (ECHO), supported the nutrition sector with a €500,000 grant to UNICEF and €1.2 million to the World Food Programme. Furthermore, €300,000 was allocated to the Food and Agriculture Organisation
(FAO) for emergency subsistence assistance for the pastoral population affected by the drought and €1 million has been allocated by the Commission for humanitarian aid actions in Djibouti for 2011.
and 10th European Development Fund
foresees €63.7 million aid for the period 2000-2013. EU projects in the country include the rehabilitation of the Route Nationale 1, which links the port of Djibouti to Ethiopia and a project in a densely populated part of the capital has established a water-supply network and sewerage facilities to improve sanitary conditions and access to clean water. Recently, the Commission has signed a financing agreement for a project that will reinforce the electrical power interconnection between Ethiopia and Djibouti, to improve access to renewable energy and reduce the costs of electricity.
Djibouti is a small, semi-presidental republic in north-east Africa
with natural resources and little industry, so is thus heavily dependent on foreign assistance to help support its balance of payments and to finance development projects. An unemployment rate of 40% to 50% continues to be a major problem.
February 2011, an estimated 30,000 Djiboutians
joined the Arab world protests, demanding that President Guelleh step down. The ‘Day of Rage’ protest, scheduled for 25 February, was however easily contained by security forces and the government has deployed heavily armed police forces across the country and blocked protestors from gathering in the capital city. However, the impact of the protest lingers on in the day-to-day activities of the government.
Prior to his departure, Commissioner Piebalgs said: “Djibouti is an important player in the Horn of Africa, which has clearly demonstrated its commitment to peace and stability in the region. The Commission wants to support its people in addressing the main challenges of the coming years, such as access to affordable and green energy and water supply. In the course of 2011, we plan to sign financing agreements worth €22 million.”
In addition to his meetings with government representatives, Piebalgs will hold exchanges with the executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development
(IGAD), which is a regional organisation in the Horn of Africa and will also carry out visits to a number of EU projects in Djibouti.