Date: Friday, 31 January 2020
By: Berhane Woldu
“Hostility between Eritrea and Ethiopia will be history within five years” President Isaias Afwerki 2013.
The year 2018 was a game changer The Minority Regime Weyne (TPLF) in Ethiopia had finally collapsed and East Africa has once again become a region of peace and hope. The Eritrean Ethiopian boarder verdict was accepted by the new leadership of Ethiopia. Normalization between the two countries was restored. Agreements on economic, social and regional peace was reached. The Eritrean government: who has for long advocated and worked for the cooperation of East African nations in the development and regional peace sector was more than glad to have welcomed the new political climate.
Eritrea’s economic, social and political development was interrupted by war and no peace no war. Year 2020; Eritrea is picking up its interrupted national development program colossally. The first seven years after independence Eritrea was registering 7 to 10 % economic growth. In 1998, after the war of aggression and economic sabotages by ill willed governments Eritrea’s economic development stagnated for short time. Most of the foreign currency reserve was used to defend the country, the trifling foreign investments left the country. Eritrea in 2004 imported $514 million dollars of consumable goods and exported $95million with a trade deficit of $423million dollars. Basing these economic indicators the Economic experts in the Western countries forecasted that Eritrea as a country will cease to exist due to the collapse of it economy. Forgetting the resilience of the people and leadership and their ability to turn challenges into opportunity.
In 2000 the Eritrean government had to re-structure and reform its economic development program due to war and hostilities by Western countries and their subjects. The Holistic development program and the structural transformation that was planned to leap Eritrea to economic emancipation and prospers nation was interrupted. Hence, the government was forced to readjust its Macro-economic policy. Nevertheless, Eritrean government didn’t deviate from its Cardinal principle of Social Justus; meaning that those who have been on the underside of history must see that there is a qualitative difference between repression and freedom. And for an Eritrean, freedom translates into having a supply of clean water on tap, having electricity; being able to live in a decent home and having a good job; to be able to send their children to school and have accessible health care.
The Government of Eritrea was cornered from every angle by its enemy that wanted to bring the leadership down through economic sabotage. There were shortage of foreign currency, shut out of international money market and high prices for its import. Hostilities were none conducive to implement the desired investment programs. To alleviate these challenges Eritrea halted the liberal Macroeconomic program of 1994. New macroeconomic policies were introduced and public spending was increased (Neo- Keynesian) structural and sectorial reform were devised. The government shifted from rational development program to centralization. Through Public financing Eritrea in the twenty years of no peace no war spent billions of US dollars on infrastructure, power plant, roads, dams and social services (schools, hospitals, clean water electrification). Eritrea endowed with Political stability, low corruption, skilled and industries labor force effortlessly readjust its policy to overcome challenges. What has been attained to date is a miracle; looking at the major economic sectors i.e. Social services, Agriculture, infrastructure, health, and education one can testify to the accomplishments.
The Eritrean government set the strategic priorities regarding development programs that require large capital expenditure sectors by sector; infrastructure, Argo-industry, health, and education. In order to build the infrastructure and related development projects the Government formed national construction companies. These companies built projects worth $2.5 billion estimated cost of construction, $950 million dollars cost of hospitals and government office, $3.5 billion water supply dams and agroindustry infrastructures. In order to be competitive and export high value-added agricultural products the Agro-industries has created a post harvest system, sanitary standards and technical requirements in packing and labeling.
Education being the fundamental right that all nationals are entitled to, the government built elementary, junior, secondary schools, vocational schools and colleges. According to the administration of higher education; to date the Warsaye Yekalo School has prepared 898,624 high school students to take the matriculation exam and 69,040 have gone to colleges’. In 2005 the national vocational training center was established 19,993 have graduated in administration, trade, machinery, agriculture etc. 47% of them are female graduates. The vocational training center was expanded in 2007 to accommodate the population growth of young adults; through these endeavor 645,394 students have had the opportunity to graduate. These graduates are now working in: mining, finance, logistics, health, communication, construction, customs and trade. Six colleges and one University that are accredited by the Nordic States provide higher education. The University Of Eritrea Institute Of Technology which has seven thousand (7,000) students is being expanded with modernly equipped IT centers in conjunction with University of Eastern Finland.
In 2014 the Government took drastic and unexpected move that surprised many Nations, financial experts, speculators and money launderers. The Eritrean national bank issued new currency replacing old Nakfa. The supply of money was managed, demand pull inflation was controlled, and velocity of money was regulated by the economic activity rather than speculation. Financial exchanges were made through banks, and Billions of Nakfa walked back to the banks for deposit. Sound monetary policies were achieved. The greed market, black market, hording money, illegal trade and contraband markets were put under control. Tax collection and fiscal policies were enhanced. The financial sector which was targeted for sabotage by ill-wishers ended.
In 2017 Eritrea and the United Nation have signed “The Strategic Partnership Cooperation Framework” (SPCF). The SPCF 2017-2021 is aligned to the National Indicative Development Plan inclusive of basic social services, capacity development, food security and sustainable livelihoods and environment sustainability. Economic development projects has picked up. Eritrean National construction companies have started to build roads and housing that is to be completed by 2023. The government has signed agreements with many international companies in road expansion, housing, agroindustry and work had started. Air, sea and road transport is being expanded. For Eritrea the future is bright and prosperity is within reach and will surpass and outshine the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal.
Eritrea is a country that is built on shared sacrifices and as such all it citizens benefit equally. The vision, mission and goal is to build a luxuriant Nation. Not just a few billionaires. In face of all things Eritrea is marching to economic prosperity.