More than $8 billion has been pledged as leaders of global and regional institutions embarked on a historic trip to the Horn of Africa aimed at improving the polity and development of the entire region.

Among the global leaders involved in this move are UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon; World Bank Group President, Jim King; President of the Islamic Development Bank Group, Dr Ahmad Al-Madini and others who are equally concerned about stability and development in the region.

The World Bank Group has already announced a major financial guarantee of $1.8 billion for cross-border activities that will promote economic growth while also reducing poverty in the eight countries that constitute the Horn of Africa; Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

“This new financing represents a major new opportunity for the people of the Horn of Africa to make sure they get access to clean water, nutritious food, health care, education, and jobs. There is greater opportunity now for the Horn of Africa to break free from its cycles of drought, food insecurity, water insecurity, and conflict by building up regional security, generating a peace dividend, especially among young women and men, and spurring more cross-border cooperation,” said President Jim King of the World Bank Group.

The region is quite diverse, having some of the fastest growing economies in the world as well as some of the poorest countries. There are huge resources that have not been tapped and the population of the entire region doubles every 23 years according to the World Bank. Unemployment is a major theme especially among women who have limited rights because of their gender, thus having very limited access to economic opportunities.

Leading the trip to the region, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon said “The countries of the Horn of Africa are making important yet unheralded progress in economic growth and political stability. Now is a crucial moment to support those efforts, end the cycles of conflict and poverty, and move from fragility to sustainability. The United Nations is joining with other global and regional leaders to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach towards peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa.”

The European Union (EU) will also support this socio-economic crusade with about $3.7 billion, 10 percent of which will be for cross-border activities while the African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged $1.8 billion over the next three years and the Islamic Development Bank will generate about $1 billion to finance its four member countries in the Horn of Africa; Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

By Emmanuel Iruobe

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