BY ANDUALEM SISAY GESSESSE – Asmara, Eritrea –
Experts from across the 14 eastern Africa courtiers have gathered in Asmara, Eritrea to discuss regional economic integration of the courtiers in the region.
“Our sub-region the Horn of Africa after decades of externally induced and inter and intra-state conflicts has begun to breathe air of hope and togetherness, peace and stability – critical prerequisite for regional integration – is a new opportunity we can leverage on for regional integration… Eritrea’s view of regional integration is guided by simple ad doable vision that is building stronger regional blocs,” said Osman Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, in his opening remark.
“We should not be trapped in overlapping and ambitious regional gatherings and forums, gouging our real capabilities in tense punt ail,” he said.
The Minister stated that the combined human and natural resources of eastern Africa region has significant potential to transform the lives of each individual person living in the bloc.
“Apparently these resources are not the ends by themselves. The lofty ideas of regional integration might seem appealing on blueprint; however it is judicious to design pragmatic policies and measurable projects,” he said.
“Without transforming our existing infrastructural capacities both human and physical, be it regional trade and economic integration will remain wishful and incomprehensible…I hope our deliberations would galvanize to unlock the shared opportunities ad potentials in our regions,” Minister Osman said.
The experts are gathering in Asmara for the coming three days for the 23 meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE). The experts are gathered from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Madagascar, Tanzania, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Rwanda, Seychelles and Somalia.
For over a decade Eritrea has not been active in most of the activities of regional blocs, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) following the war with its neighbor Ethiopia. Since the two countries have decided to end the hostility last year, Eritrea is returning to the regional and international forums, especially after the end of UN sanctions o the country, which came after restoring peace with Ethiopia.
“The Horn of Africa ad east Africa has a lot of tourist potential. We hope that as we trade and move across borders, across boundaries, we can also begin to build a tremendous economy that delivers for our populations and delivers for our youth,” said Vera Songwe, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, which has been bringing together experts from across Africa to help the courtiers in the continent take advantage of economic integration.