ASMARA — Eritrea has dealt with ongoing political and economic instability for nearly a quarter of a century. Ongoing conflicts and remerging droughts have hampered the nation, as it remains one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita income of $1,300 (CIA, 2016). Mining is an integral component of Eritrea that makes up a large portion of the government and economic growth; copper and gold are the main source of exports. With contracts formulated with developed nations, Eritrea has attempted to legitimize this main source of income.
One of the five development projects in Eritrea strives to improve the agricultural sector of the economy that many Eritreans rely upon. The construction of a dam in Bashir is said to ameliorate the lives of residents and contribute to the development “of fruits and vegetable farms and supply the local market.”
Subsequently, another project directed towards the Anseba region is a water project in Dige-Mirad operating on solar energy. The nexus of this ongoing installment includes water pipelines and containers in addition to water distribution centers.
Another sustainable project aims at inserting power grids across rural areas while also allocating affordable and reliable electricity for residents. This project, financed by the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme and the government of Eritrea, will provide electricity for 40,000 homes and businesses in some of the most remote locations. According to a recent article, “around 75 percent of Eritrea’s 6.3 million population has no access to grid power.”
For a country that suffers from economic security partially due to the effects of climate change, this €5.7 million investment will fulfill most peoples’ hopes, replicated across the country. These solar-powered mini-grids, under the supervision of British solar power developer Solarcentury, will begin construction in October of 2018.
4. Colluli Potash Project
Much of the five development projects in Eritrea tackle agriculture in an attempt to revitalize crops and foods so farmers can enhance the opportunity for trade outside the mining sector. There has also been an increase in attempting to improve the fertility rate across the country in addition to the growing concern regarding Eritrea’s land degradation.
One project that has received much praise is the Colluli Potash Project. This operation, under the company Danakali Ltd., optimizes the production process with the collaboration of the Colluli Mining Share Company. The company harvests on the production of sulphate of potash (SOP) and, according to a recent article, Colluli is “the world’s leading and most progressed SOP development project.” It is a key hub in the fertilizer market, gaining recognition from the likes of India, the Middle East, China, Southeast Asia and Europe.
5. Public Sector
The last of the five development projects in Eritrea focuses on the public sector, specifically targeting specialized schools driven to provide skills to disadvantaged people. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) will resume its support for vocational projects at the end of 2019 with part of the projects based out of the port city of Massawa. The program will concentrate on meeting the needs of residents through adept training workers, instructional training courses and the allowance of the instructors themselves to develop their own skills. The crux of this project is to “give disadvantaged young people, especially girls, the chance to learn a trade.”
Eritrea has witnessed its neighboring country Ethiopia engage in proxy wars with Somalia and Djibouti. As a result, Eritrea has been unstable, phased with political instability, corruption and agricultural irrigation. These new projects offer optimism for a country attaining to revive itself from a post-conflict era that has torn the nation apart. The hope is that these new development projects in Eritrea will incite investment from overseas, and serve as an attempt to build a modernized society free of political insecurity.
– Alexandre Dumouza