There are fifty four nations whose flags fly outside the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa. Every African nation aspires to escape from poverty and become a developed country but there are only few nations that are on the way to joining the league of developed nations. Eritrea is among the few countries that have vision, aspiration and prospect to develop.
The march to become a developed nation started in the early 1990s but was hindered by the TPLF aggression. There is no need to instruct and teach Eritrea about the way it should go. The path that the government is following will lead the country to development.
To be successful in its efforts to develop, a country ought to have a shared vision. During the struggle for independence Eritreans were victorious because they had, among other things, a clear and common vision in fighting for independence. The Eritrean People Liberation Front (EPLF), as a liberation movement, set out a clear vision of future Eritrea and that vision entered the hearts and minds of every freedom fighter, tegadalay, and the people. The clear and shared vision motivated Eritreans to be organized and strive for its realization.
The post-independence vision of Eritrea was outlined and charted in the national charter of Eritrea in 1994. Through that document the vision and ideals of an independent Eritrea were shared and entered the hearts and minds of its citizens. The vision is so great and noble and it is obvious that the journey to reach the destination would become challenging. The national charter of Eritrea stipulates that ‘Our vision is for Eritrea to become a country where peace, justice, democracy and prosperity prevail. Our vision is to eliminate hunger, poverty and illiteracy from Eritrea. Our vision is for Eritrea to preserve its identity and uniqueness… Our vision is for Eritrean society to be known for harmony… Our vision is to perform miracles in peaceful nation-building as we did in the war of liberation.’ This national vision of Eritrea is meant to provide clarity to the shared vision of Eritreans that determined our future. Indeed, the future of Eritrea will be founded on such a vision.
The new post-independence dream and vision is so big it demands more time, resource, work and creativity than the vision for independence. But regardless of its toughness if it is shared properly by the citizens there is no doubt it would become a reality. A vision is made easier to realize by breaking it down into goals, strategies, and plans. Success in any national engagement is not an abstract process; it has become a science which, if pursued in the right way with commitment, delivers results. In realizing the grand vision of Eritrea, the most decisive factor is a conscious and determined workforce. Human resource is given more credence than natural resources, foreign aid and investments.
It seems clear that the primary focus of development in Eritrea is to create a dedicated and committed workforce with strong will, diligence, work ethic, discipline and inventiveness. Eritrea’s approach to development is people-centered. Development has to be about people, for people, and by people. The vision of development must be based on inclusiveness and social justice. Development has to foster and preserve what is good to the wider society. Thus, the human element is accorded a central position in the development strategy of the country and many resources have been invested into human development through education, vocation and health. Eritrea has made significant strides in the area of human development. Human development is a process of enhancing human capabilities by expanding choices and opportunities. Eritrea has adopted a policy of universal free education from pre-school to higher education. This policy ensures that every child, irrespective of family economic background, gets the opportunity to enroll at school.
All the national engines of the country are brought together to realize the national vision of development. The first goal now is to achieve the sustainable development goals, SDGs, ahead of time and to implement the development projects subsumed in the eleven points declared by President Isaias Afwerki on the 28th Independence Day. Special focus has been paid to rural areas, infrastructure, manufacturing and the agriculture sector. The national vision of Eritrea can be reached through the government’s policy of self reliance and through collaboration with stakeholders. The national vision can be realized when victory is internalized by the nationals. Therefore the journey towards success must first start in our minds by adopting positive attitudes.
In deed, Eritrea today faces economic challenges. However, social, political, security and governance challenges that paralyzed many African countries are not a question in Eritrea. Eritrea enjoys peace, political stability, national unity and social cohesion. These must be cultivated and sustained as essential pillars for the realization of the national vision. Given its peace and stability, the country can turn the economic challenges into opportunities in the foreseeable future. The peace with Ethiopia, the lifting of sanctions and the change in behavior of the Horn of Africa also offer additional opportunities for the realization of Eritrea’s dream.
Development should be viewed as a means to the wellbeing of the people. National development is impossible to achieve and advance without the participation of the people. National development is a complex process and to be meaningful it should have a stable foundation, respect human rights, and guarantee unity. National development must be accompanied by balanced development. As defined by the United Nations, development is “…an inalienable human right by virtue of which every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized.”
Eritrea is one of the youngest countries in Africa and the world. At independence in May 1991, it emerged from a 30-year armed struggle for independence. For the first time since its establishment as an Italian colony, Eritrea enjoyed and experienced peace for seven years. During the seven years of peace and independence, Eritrea managed to heal its wounds and registered 7% economic growth that was later disrupted by TPLF’s aggression in 1998. For a second time in 2018 Eritrea emerged from the 20-year ‘no war, no peace’ situation having preserved its independence and sovereignty. Eritrea has enjoyed another one year of peace (2018-2019) in its history. Within a year, it has made significant strides in rehabilitating its transport infrastructure.
The national vision of Eritrea, enshrined in the national charter, will serve as a guide for all development efforts and the commitment and dedication of all Eritreans to its realization. Generally, the attitudes and collective mindsets of Eritreans in national affairs are promising. If we continue to nurture the developmental mindset of our people, mobilize and organize the domestic resources and effectively address our challenges we can realize our vision in the near future.