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Mining and free trade in Eritrea

June 29, 2009

Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki has guarded his country jealousy since independence, pushing a self-reliant attitude that encourages Eritreans to rebuild Eritrea for themselves.

But in order to develop the potentially lucrative mining and trade sectors, he will have to open up the country more to foreign money and therefore possible foreign influence.

The government intends to launch free trade zones at its main ports in Massawa and Assab on its Red Sea coast, and dozens of firms, including from China, India and Dubai, have already registered to operate there to take advantage of the bustling cargo shipping lanes.

Reserves of gold, zinc and copper have been found in Eritrea and analysts are predicting a mining boom. Fourteen foreign firms are exploring in the country and the first project is expected to start producing gold by late 2010.

“We believe mining will play an important role in boosting the economy and the government is committed to develop it,” Alem Kibreab, director-general of mines, told Reuters Africa Journal.

The authorities want the sector to be developed slowly and carefully to prevent the so-called “resources curse”, where oil and minerals have spawned and corruption violence in Africa.

After the long struggle for independence from Ethiopia and subsequent border dispute, expectations for the development of the economy to support the population of 4 million are high – although Afwerki says the mining sector is no magic solution.

“Let’s not be misled that this gold is going to change everything and let’s not be relaxed,” he said. “Getting relaxed and trying to rely on, or at least anticipating to heavily rely on this resource may be crippling.”

(Photo: Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki listens to a question during an interview with Reuters in the capital Asmara. Reuters/Ho New)
Comments

This is good news, if done properly this could bring a lot of prosperity to the country. They will have to tackle the problem of the Somali pirates though, as Eritrea’s harbours are near the hunting grounds of the pirates.

 

In many regards, Hard Commodities have proven singularly unsuccessful at effecting trickledown in any meaningful form. I would surmise that it is a result of Narrow Partisan Interests, who sit in control of the Levers of the State and are able to strike an egregious bargain, normally in their favour and at a serious disadvantage to the Country. The SSA narrative is littered with these examples.For African Countries, Given the SmallHolder Nature of many Countries, getting Agriculture right has brought far more effective trickledown because so many Folk actually till the land.I hope the President uses this opportunity to build a worthwhile Legacy.Aly-Khan SatchuTwitter alykhansatchuhttp://www.rich.co.ke/rctoo ls/wrapup.php

 

Eritrea is quite right to be careful about the resource curse and unscrupulous vultures that have no qualms to ransack resources of Africa with the help of few corrupt enriched natives.You can see what has happened and still happening in Nigeria (oil), Ethiopia (Gold/ Land), Sierra leone (Diamonds), South Africa (Diamonds) and many more, where their people do not see a penny, instead only guns and bullets.I will leave you with an article from NYTimes, a ghastly example of Djibouti mining deal with indian firm, that is ripping off the resource of the people for next to nothing while Djibouti is begging to be fed.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/wo rld/africa/29iht-horn.4.13318899.html?_r =1“Bhuta said he had set up mines across Africa but had never experienced such generous terms of business, like the deal he struck with the government to split gold profits 80 percent for his company, 20 percent for the government. “In Africa, you never even get 50 percent,” he said.”

Posted by Simon | Report as abusive
 

Isaias Afewerki will use the mining money (blood Gold) to build prisons in Track B (close to Asmara, the capital city), Hadish Masker (close to Sawa and the Sudan Border), Barentu and effectively a giant prison country which is Eritrea.As simple as that!!Hope God will bring mercey to the Eritrean People who deserve so much.

Posted by Eritrean | Report as abusive
 

are you paid by dictator isaias afewerki?? how much money?? this so-called self-reliance is fake. please check the file of United Nations WFP organization to see that dicttaor isayas was begging WFP for aid the last 15 years. in fact isayas was making eritrea the NUMBER ONE AID DEPENDENT NATION PER CAPITA BETWEEN 1995-2006.so what “self-reliance” are you talking about??isayas still gets the most per capita from European Union than any other country 2005-2009. so where is that selfreliance.dictator isayas gets milions of dollars from libya and others to use to kill innocent eritreans and the opposition. so what is the self-reliance??the only reason, dictator isayas recently rejected aid (just two times) from america is because america was teling dictator isayas to stop human rights abuses and suporting terrorists in somalia.that is the only reason.before that, he was the number one beggar in the world

Posted by Saleh | Report as abusive
 

More money for the dictator, more prisons for eritrean people. keep on feeding the beast you money-obsessed corporations, he will just use it to control and punish eritreans.My advice to eritrean youth is to leave the country before this dictator starts collecting the money. I had that in my mind when I escaped!!

Posted by Bini | Report as abusive
 

The opposition are being their usual selves, bitter and twisted. The gold is not even dug yet, stop whining and throw your crystal balls.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive
 

The resource curse will have nothing do to with corruption or violence and everything to do with allowing this tyrant to hold onto power. Mineral wealth will give Isaias the means to continue his stranglehold on this free nation.Eritreans, stand up for yourselves! Demand a say in your future! Demand a piece of your own natural wealth! Do not allow this petty bandit to keep you under his boot for another day!

Posted by ZERSENAY | Report as abusive
 

Let’s hope it is all true. Let’s hope things work out….

Posted by Nebiyou | Report as abusive
 

Eritrea has been at pains to prove it’s amazing mining potential for years. Extraction was meant to start in 2006, then 2007, 2008… now 2010. And all that to boost the overly indebted states tattered credit worthiness. If and when money does start flowing from the mines expect new armaments, new tensions with Ethiopia and new prisons to be built. Gold will not translate into extra injera on peoples plates. Except the presidents plate ofcourse and a few of his cronies. And a new lease of life for the Isaias regime.

Posted by Owalino | Report as abusive
 

“…The authorities want the sector to be developed slowly and carefully to prevent the so-called “resources curse”, where oil and minerals have spawned and corruption violence in Africa..”Really? Are we talking about the authorities that are running Eritrea right now? Try dictators that spawned corruption, oppression, torture, fear, control, and mass enslavement. Without the benefit of the mineral! Give me a “resources curse” any day! As a second thought, don’t give me any resource at all. For dictators, more resources = more money = more ruthless yes men and more efficient hammers to beat the people’s head with.But i’m not worried. I don’t believe anything the Eritrean authorities say – they earned that reputation!

Posted by Sami | Report as abusive
 

Bustling Sea Lanes….Uahahahahahaha!!!!!!!Massawa is just teaming with cargo ships!Uahahahahahaa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Kurkur | Report as abusive
 

The so called opposition remind me of the Fox and the grapes fable story, upon failing to find a way to reach grapes hanging high up on a vine, when the fox retreated and said: “The grapes are sour anyway.Eritrea has made impressive achievements without much help from outside, but I will leave you with reports from WHO and Unicef that you can verify.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30864 223/wid/11915773/Eritrea increased its average life expectancy by 33 years to 61 for men, and by 12 years to 65 for women overtaking Russia.”WHO’s annual World Health Statistics”http://www.unicef.org/infobyc ountry/eritrea_46858.htmlShe noted that Eritrea’s under-five mortality declined by roughly 50 per cent.“Eritrea has provided an example that if concerted efforts are made, a lot can be achieved for children,” she said.”unicef”And here are the results of the most aid recipient countries in the Horn of Africa that are NGOs’ playgrounds.http://www.wfp.org/crisis-ho rn-africahttp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/worl d/africa/8103355.stmNow with the gold revenue progress can only be expedited. So stop being sour grapes.

Posted by Simon | Report as abusive
 

“Let’s not be misled that this gold is going to change everything and let’s not be relaxed,” he said. “Getting relaxed and trying to rely on, or at least anticipating to heavily rely on this resource may be crippling’Great analysis by issayis aferkio Eritrea is in good hands awet nefshaContrary to what opposition groups say about the Eritrean governmentEritrean government is doing their job trying to build a prosperous nation with the resources and capacity it has without selling its soul to huge corporations which is hard not do in hard times (poverty)While the opposition groups in western country do their job of spreading negative news , lies , disproportion remake and rumours about to divide Eritrea and keep their master in the ( special interest groups) west happyUnfortunately to those how wish and pray they could overthrow the Eritrean government and cause bloodshed all they have done is made them stronger ironic when you come to think of ithida hizbi hida liba hida firki

Posted by human | Report as abusive
 

It’s ammusing to see such passionate hate from individuals who dont even live in the country but claim to know the inner workings of the society/govt. Do not try to convey your opinions as facts in an affort to mislead uninformed non eritreans. Saleh youre claims are so baseless that I wont even ask you to reveal your sources b/c your sources are nonexistent. Lets pray for the future of eritrea and hope that Somalia and Ethiopia can one day resemble stable countries with stable leadership. So that the region can porgressively move forward instead of depriving their people of basic necesseties.

Posted by Freh | Report as abusive
 

It’s ammusing to see such passionate hate from individuals who dont even live in the country but claim to know the inner workings of the society/govt. Do not try to convey your opinions as facts in an affort to mislead uninformed non eritreans. Saleh youre claims are so baseless that I wont even ask you to reveal your sources b/c your sources are nonexistent. Lets pray for the future of eritrea and hope that Somalia and Ethiopia can one day resemble stable countries with stable leadership. So that the region can progressively move forward instead of depriving their people of basic necesseties.

Posted by Freh | Report as abusive
 

Is the author of this blog a spokesperson for the Eritrean government? If your intention was to simply report about the mining story, then a simple title and paragraph would have done. Instead, you made it seem as if the “self-reliance” rhetoric was at all true and that the government isn’t already corrupt and tyrannical, with or without gold. The President in his own words said Eritrea would probably never see democracy, because he views it as a Western strategy to meddle in the affairs of other nations. How about democracy means the country isn’t ruled by one stubborn dictator, and that if a leader does a terrible job, he or she can be replaced by the people? That is the entire purpose of democracy and it’s worked pretty well for countries that have adopted it.Perhaps if the people had the freedom to criticize the government, to assemble and protest government policies, and to elect their own leaders, then maybe a new leader with better ideas could emerge and truly keep the promise of the 30-year struggle for independence to make Eritrea a prosperous nation for its people.

Posted by Sammy | Report as abusive
 

Its a good country but they have no good president but dictator and ignorant.

 

What the hell will this do to the oppressed mass in Eritrea other than filling the coffer of the blood thirsty man.

Posted by niamn | Report as abusive
 

These bunch of hulligans are not opposition. They are spoilers. Shaebia is in Eritrea for a mission, get used to them thay will outlast and outsmart you all the time. keep your venumous behaviour where ever you are and do not take it on the writer, he is doing a good job.

 

God bless Eritrea and it´s leadership. To the “opposition” I only have this to say: “one cannot awake someone pretending to be sleeping”.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive
 

The reason that Eritrean cannot emancipate their economy is that they have not yet emancipated themselves from the venom of blind nationalism. Isaias Afwerki though has managed to liberate his country by lines and self drawn boundaries but has failed to give it bread. Leadership should not be of control but of service. I doubt the Eritrean’s president leadership is of service because if it is, Eritrea’s GDP and its population’s income would significantly increase. Isaias Afwerki should spend time thinking of how to establish his country not as a static eccentric one but as a circular prosperous economy that can very well protect its nationalism if foreign influence is of big concern to him.

Posted by Augustine A | Report as abusive
 

Acoording to the 2009 report by Funds for Peace of the Failed Index states, most African states, despite the huge foreign aid they receive from the so called “western donors” performed very poor. Why? because they are infested with corruption. Eritrea, despite all the obstacles and with minimal to none foreign assitance, performed better than the others. Why? because it adheres to the principle of self reliance and does not tolerate corruption. Do you get it you bone headed so called “opposition” who can’t see things beyond your blind and obsessive hate towards the leadership. Speaking of constitution, the subject you adore most, the fact is that if it was to be painted as a human figure by the best artist like, let’s say Michael Agelo, and presented to you, you wouldn’t be able to differentiate its head from its feet. So, stop whining and let the people of Eritrea participate in the nation building.

Posted by The Truth | Report as abusive
 

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