African Development Bank to support Eritrea's economic growth

African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina tours Misilam Dam and Adi Halo Water Project with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki

ASMARA - Eritrea's economy could witness massive growth following a bilateral agreement between Asmara and the African Development Bank [AfDB], a strategic partner in the social-economic transformation of African nations for several decades.

President Isaias Afwerki and AfDB President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, signed the agreement on Friday in Asmara, which would give the Horn of Africa nation a massive economic facelift in terms of economic growth and sustainable development.

Eritrea, Afwerki said, has identified AfDB as a strategic partner in social-economic transformation, adding that the partnership would boost the country's economy “from subsistence to industrialization.”

Since joining AfDB in 1994, it was the first time the bank's president has visited the Horn of Africa nation. Afwerki said Eritrea had found the African Development Bank Group to be an ally and a key partner for development.

“We have had fruitful engagements with the Bank and want to do more with the institution on a sustainable level,” he said. He also called for more resources for the African Development Bank and for it to be strengthened to support Africa's development priorities.

The Eritrean strongman expressed his wishes that the bank help fishing communities, agriculture, skills and capacity development to increase self-sufficiency, and integrated infrastructure to enable the country to make the most of its large potash deposits.

Earlier this year, the bank approved $49.92 million to the country for the construction of a 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in Dekemhare, the bank's largest development in the country. Once completed, the project will assist Eritrea in generating up to 360 megawatts by 2030.

In 2018, Eritrea signed a peace and cooperation agreement with its neighbour, Ethiopia. This milestone marked the end of 20 years of conflict that had hampered economic development. The agreement and the lifting of United Nations and United States sanctions ended a decade of international isolation for Eritrea.

On his part, Adesina said the bank will focus on supporting energy, water, sanitation, agriculture, skills, and capacity development in Eritrea. Further, he noted, that the bank will support the economic development of the country through financial assistance.

Adesina said: “As President of the African Development Bank, I can assure you that under my leadership, the African Development Bank will be there to support Eritrea's drive to transform its economy. It can only get better with all the projects we have talked about today. If we work together, I know that Eritrea will be a much better country in many ways.”

Adesina said the Eritrean leader had been consistent with his engagement with the African Development Bank since Eritrea joined the institution nearly 30 years ago.

He highlighted the need to prioritize agro-industrialization to further grow the agriculture sector and ensure food stability. He also proposed the African Development Bank's Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones initiative as a model for transforming Eritrea's rural communities into prosperous economic zones, harnessing the power of commercial agriculture and food production, the bank said.

Eritrea is pushing to be one of Africa's most strategic development partners in the Horn of Africa and to push for this strategy, the country has changed political and foreign policies by embracing other countries. For instance, the restoration of relationships with Ethiopia and Somalia has significantly transformed relations in the region.

For several years, the country has been accused of abetting infringement of human rights and other freedoms, leading to massive sanctions from the West. However, with recent developments, Afwerki seems to be keen on restoring peace and partnerships both regionally and globally.


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