James Emejo in Abuja
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and Eritrea have strengthened their partnership to support the country’s growth and place it on a more sustainable development path in the coming years.
President of AfDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said the bank has committed to support Eritrea’s development, including its goal of self-reliance.
He spoke during a visit to the Eritrean capital, AsmaraAsmara, where he held talks with the country’s President, Isaias Afwerki.
Adesina, described the development finance institution as an important partner of Eritrea and currently supporting the country in energy, water and sanitation, agriculture, skills and capacity development, as well as economic and financial governance.
Adesina said: “I had an excellent visit to Eritrea. I came away highly impressed by the passion to develop and the incredible resilience and self-reliance of the Eritrean people.
“The best part was when I was told by a United Nations (UN) senior level official that “In Eritrea, corruption is zero per cent.”.
Adesina commended the Eritrean President, Isaias Afwerki, for being consistent with his engagement with the bank since the country joined the institution nearly 30 years ago.
In a statement, he was quoted to have added: “The capacity and first-rate skills of Eritrean engineers are amazing and should be shared with other African countries.
“President Isaias Afwerki is so passionate, determined very simple. Eritrea and its highly committed people have all it takes to rapidly grow and thrive in the years ahead.
“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.”
The AfDB president also highlighted the need to prioritise agro-industrialisation 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.
Afwerki, however, thanked Adesina for the strategic role the bank was playing in improving the lives of the Eritrean people.
He said the country had identified the African Development Bank Group as the partner of choice to drive rapid socio-economic development and to move its economy “from subsistence to industrialisation.”
He said Eritrea had found the African Development Bank Group to be an ally and a key partner for development.
Afwerki said, “We have had fruitful engagements with the Bank and want to do more with the institution on a sustainable level.”
He also called for more resources for the African Development Bank and for it to be strengthened to support Africa’s development priorities.
He also called for additional support in other critical areas, including support for 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
In April, the African Development Bank’s board of directors approved a $49.92 million financing grant for the construction of a 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in Dekemhare.
This is the bank’s largest investment in the country and the project would have a transformative impact on improving access to energy in Eritrea.
It would also contribute to the Eritrea’s target of generating 360 megawatts of electricity 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.