Helped by the auspicious regional developments and internal commitment, Eritrea has managed to build a reliable bridge that crossed over the lake of frantic threat of aggression and unjust sanction to the banks of peace and cooperation.
The normalization of relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia reinvigorated the development endeavors of Eritrea in many ways. 2018/2019 was a year of relative peace and progress. The year 2018/2019 marked the end of the state of war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. It closed a chapter of conflict and unhealthy competition and has opened a new chapter of peace and cooperation between the two countries and the Horn of Africa in general.
Development can be easily measured by the quality of life of the people and the social cohesion of a nation. The development strategy of Eritrea aims at transforming the lives of the people, not simply transforming the economy. In his New Year message to the people of Eritrea, President Isaias Afwerki pointed out that “we are bidding farewell to the year 2019 perched on the pinnacle of hope and confidence.” The people and government of Eritrea are proud of their accomplishments, but they remain humble.
In the darkest hours of invasion and sanction we believed in ourselves and acted. The ways to achieve our goals have never been blurred and we have a strong belief that our goals are attainable. We are more motivated, energized, and persist in the face of hindrances. The resilience in the face of obstacles, the creativity in finding solutions and the patience in maintaining the peace Eritrea has shown is extraordinary.
Last year Eritrea strengthened its national action and international co-operation for a healthy and secure development. Important positive measures were taken that reinforced the development endeavors of the country.
Renovation, expansion and construction of roads was one of the greatest post peace achievements of the year. The construction of transport infrastructure has become one of the main priorities of Eritrea in its attempt to achieve the sustainable development the world has sought to achieve by 2030. The government recognized the contribution of road transportation in the overall development plan of the country. Transport along with other supporting infrastructures is an enabler of development. Within one-year, Eritrea has been able to modernize its existing roads and lay new infrastructures that would serve as a springboard for economic and social development.
After the peace and friendship agreement was signed in July 2018 between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the renovation and expansion of roads that connect the two countries has been given high priority. The road from Nefasit through Dekemhare to Serha, which has strategic importance, was completely expanded. Another strategically important road that was constructed in the previous year goes from Dekemhare through the newly built Gergera dam to Teraemni. An elaborate and modern road from Adiquala to Endagergis was also constructed to connect Eritrea with the northern part of Ethiopia. Therefore, all the roads that connect Eritrea and Ethiopia are completely renovated and expanded, ready to give fast and safe transport service. The construction of these roads will have a positive effect on the development of the country and its relationship with neighboring countries. Initiatives have also been taken by Eritrea to modernize the Assab-Burie line. All these roads are likely to take the two countries to prosperity and will contribute substantially to peace building and encourage trans-border trade.
In addition to the modernization of infrastructure, the development of the health sector is the top priority of Eritrea. The mission of the health sector in Eritrea is to promote and provide high quality preventive, curative and rehabilitative health care services to the Eritrean people (NHP 2010). In order to speed up and improve the health condition of the people, the Government of Eritrea did its health policy review in 2019. The Ministry of Health has made an in-depth assessment of the sector and chartered a two-year plan. Health service is a fundamental right of every Eritrean in rural and urban areas. The government has scored a remarkable achievement in its efforts to ensure a fair distribution of health services throughout the country. Eritrea, which has already achieved the MDGs, is expected to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in health ahead of time. In 2019, a successful nationwide immunization as well as hygiene and sanitation services was undertaken. Over a quarter of the villages in Eritrea have already been declared “Open-Defecation-Free”. Eritrea is committed towards ending open defecation in the upcoming year. Environmental sanitation would help to boost the prevention and control of many communicable diseases.
Education is another factor that plays a role in human development. Education is a human right with immense power to transform the people’s lives. Eritrea has for long recognized the prominence of education for the development of the country. The Government of Eritrea considers education to be the cornerstone of all national development efforts. Eritrea has been able to make basic education available to all. As Eritrea is now embarking on a new era of peace and rapid all-round development, the government is committed to achieve education for all at 100%. To maximize the social and economic benefits of education, equity and quality should have equal importance. Regarding equity in enrolment at all levels of education, Eritrea has scored encouraging results. Girls’ enrolment in secondary and vocational schools as well as colleges is continuously rising every year. In order to give safety to our development efforts, we should continue to put as many resources as possible into education and health.
There is ample evidence that 2018/2019 is the harbinger of a bright future. In the new era of peace, Eritreans are united and determined to develop the country and to make up for the lost opportunities. Peace enables development and is critical in widening opportunities. We need to promote development that does not destroy our natural environment and social virtues. Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we envision. Our goal should not be development, but development based on social justice. More than ever before, the people and government of Eritrea have faith and confidence in their capacity to develop.
Eritrea’s assets to overcome obstacles such as the country’s political stability, the people’s discipline and the culture of resistance have to remain the same. Considerable attention must be paid to preserving and enhancing our national unity since it has the capacity to make a great contribution to the development of Eritrea.