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Areas the Eritrean government should improve upon

Increasing Eritrea's mobile-phone subscription by as little as 10% will grow GDP per capita by 1.4% -Photo: Aster Habte

Although most media outlets downplay Eritrea's achievements in favor of negative and distorted news, the inconvenient truth is the country is leading sub-Sahara Africa in most of the important socio-economic indicators. As of today, Eritrea is on track to achieve 6/8 UN Millennium Development Goals; is approaching 85% literacy rate; and has an economy growing by 8.5%. Due to these accomplishments and more, the Africa Research Institute, a London-based think tank, dubbed Eritrea and Rwanda as the "Princess of Progress".[1] Even with these achievements, however, there are still six important areas the government should improve upon:

Mobile-Phone: Eritrea has one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in Africa. Currently, just 6% (360,000)[2] of Eritreans own mobile phones. Studies show increase in mobile subscribers have higher impact on business productivity and GDP per capita in countries with low levels of penetration levels.[2] Moreover, if Eritrea were to increase mobile subscriptions by just 10% (38,000 more), the average yearly growth of GDP per capita would be 1.4 percentage points higher.[2]

Internet speeds: Eritrea's internet penetration rate is a little over 6%. While this is around the sub-Saharan African average, it still lags behind in broadband speeds. For the most part, Eritrea has 2G internet speeds, which is more expensive and slower than 3G broadband internet speeds. Similarly to the mobile phone study aforementioned, a Worldbank/IFC report finds for every 10 percentage-point increase in high-speed Internet connections there is an increase in economic growth of 1.3 percentage points. Additionally, if broadband is made affordable and accessible, it would have a direct impact on education, health, and standard of living; the three main indicators in the UNDP Human Development Index.

Digital Media: Each year, the government spends millions of dollars on Eri-TV; and it is starting to show, too. Eri-TV has improved drastically over the years in term of picture quality and programs. However, this is not the 1970s anymore, and most potential tourists, policy makers, intellectuals, journalists and Eritrean youths in the diaspora do not watch Eri-TV to get information about Eritrea. These days, most people consume information from the internet. So it's absolutely essential the government launches several websites that deliver timely news and statistics about Eritrea.

Social services: The current social services provided by the government are not sustainable and have become an enormous finical burden on the state. For example, in order to provide free education, 45% of Eritrea's annual budget is spent on education. While this is commendable on the government's part, it might be in the country's long term interest if fiscal constraint is adopted until the economy is robust enough to handle significant social services. Eritrea should follow in China's footsteps, which according to Article 14 of their Constitution, the state "builds and improves a welfare system that corresponds with the level of economic development." Even Cuba, which has been providing universal education for several decades, has been forced to end this program and other state benefits due to the enormous burden social services have put on their economy.

Education: Education in Eritrea needs to be more cost efficient and productive. One option that maybe able to meet both criterias is digitizing school curriculum in much of the same way Khan Academy has and Google plans to do. The government, in collaboration with the Eritrean diaspora, should provide every Eritrean student with one laptop and access to affordable broadband internet service. With these tools put in place, teachers can produce videos and educational games for students to learn subjects from. In order to motivate teachers to produce better content, they should receive financial rewards every time their videos are selected by the students in helping them understand a particular subject.

Urban Development:  It is no secret that Asmara has major housing shortages. Much of the resources that should be spent on developing the city are being spent on burgeoning social services and development of rural areas. From a humanitarian point of view, the government is completely right. But from an economic and a political point of view, the government should at least consider cutting back. Developing Asmara creates jobs; grows the economy and shows people and potential investors that things are changing. As much as the government has done to improve Eritrea (and it has done a lot!), most of it can not be seen with the naked eye. Infrastructure development, however, is undeniable. With urban infrastructure, you don't need a Google search to see how the government has improved the country; it's there for the eyes to see at all times. But there are signs the government is moving towards tackling Asmara's housing shortage. Recently, the Housing and Commerce Bank of Eritrea announced it will build 1,680 modern homes and shops this year, in what is to be the largest urban development project the city has seen in over 15 years.

70 e-readers sent to Eritrean students by the Eritrean diaspora
Sample of a typical Asmara cafe's internet speed.  I've been told broadband speeds are
on their way, so this is encouraging.

[1] Africa Research Institute, March 2011
[2] Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Observatory 2012, pg. 80
[2] Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Observatory 2012, pg. 48
[2] Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Observatory 2012, pg. 48
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Areas the Eritrean government should improve upon Reviewed by Admin on 11:53 AM Rating: 5


  1. I think that the government should invest more in building higways, jacuzzis and lower the taxes for the rich... And also invest on the 4G internet speed. The wages needs to increase tenfolds , and also there has to be more clubs, bar, restaurants for us tourists.. They also has to build a subway, and a high speed train as in europe, usa...

  2. we need to build a geothermal power plant. that will save us $320 million US dollars every yr !!

  3. Wheather one agree or disagree with the above analysis, this is the kind of constractive feedback we should all engage in. Persoanlly, I would say the provistion of uninterrupted clean tap water and elecrcity must be a priority. Without this two critical compenents there can be not meaningful development. Internet connection is very important too, as it facilitates commerce, learning, communication e.t.c

  4. Of those 6 areas you are mentioning, only education and urban development (which i disagree on developing only Asmara and'll tell you why) should be Eritrea´s priority right now.

    First of all, today in Eritrea we have to invest heavily in critical infrastructure. Which means:

    1. Electricity (if you have seen the last PIA interview, he talked about the problems they have with electricity power cut and that cement factory can´t produce effectively because of electricity problems). Today we are producing 120MW!!!. 120MW is nothing in order to meet a rapidly growing demand for electricity from 5m++ people + industries/factories.

    2. Water supply system: in order to grow our agriculture (which means more food --> feed our people/export ---> Money back), water for industry use etc...

    3. Transportation system/ Roads: in order to move goods from A to B in efficient way (maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort/expense) we need good transportation system and roads. Today it costs more to move goods from Assab to Asmara than from Riyadh to Asmara!

    4. Public health: the government doing a great job in this area, by building hospitals and educating doctors, more +++

    5. Financial service: Better banking system! to be honest, today we don´t have a bank. Exchange rate are very high, Nakfa is overvalued compared to what the world exchange currency market offer. Inflation rate getting higher which means products/services for our people getting expensive....

    So the big question is now how are we going to finance for all this. As Dave said, it´s important to have a good geopolitical relationship with surrounding countries. We need peace in order to attract investors. And i don´t only mean foreigners investors, Eritreans who live abroad with BIG money. Attract more educated people who can build the country etc..

    Back to you about Asmara:

    it´s true that developing Asmara will create jobs, but it´s one dilemma here. If we only focus on Asmara, then it will be huge movements of people from other cities to Asmara. People will move to Asmara to get more and better jobs, better hospitals, better education etc.. Now Asmara got a big problem, they have to build houses for all this people. it will create high demand and low supply effect driving up housing prices to the roof.

    Don´t take this in negative way, i was just pointing what my list of priorities will be for Eritrea right now.

  5. No way. This is outrageous to say the least.

  6. ^Exactly. Geothermal is a one time cost for the construction of the plant, then self-sustaining. i know someone who bought land in the midwest and is doing this to supply energy and heat up their home. Plus Eri is on a fault line and has had volcano eruptions (caused by geothermal energy) during ancient times and modern as well, Thus good spot.

    Here's a research paper i found on it:

  7. What you all said was good idea. However I think we are missing the most important thing in helping Eritrea progress like it should! Which is to first implement the Eritrean constitution. Without law how can you progress or even have people do business? No one wants to do a business where they don't feel safe! Eritrean politics must change. Then we must insure and press more on free Press. Some of us thinks that Free Press are not important or they are distraction, however Free press plays critical role in giving the people ideas and choices. Of course there is always a regulations on free press which is to hold them accountable for misinformation. Then we can come down to all those things above mentioned!

  8. The government, in collaboration with the Eritrean diaspora. I live in Germany and would like to connect with people in raising money and collecting computers. Can anyone help me do that. I've started a group on FB, but I need to get connected with people in asmara, to find out what I need to do.

  9. to control people, its controlled everywhere though.....censorship

  10. I agree, but my parents told me people aren't allowed to fish anymore, it might be only for export. definitely agree with everything though.

  11. I disagree, many people outside of eritrea feel the need to be involved in, or even be making requests, about what happens politically. I understand when people who live there do but I think they should be focusing more on economic solutions. Eritrea is still a weak country at the end of the day, just because they have the right to do something it doesn't mean it will help the overall progress of the country. Not everyone has family in other countries to support their business ventures.

  12. This article shows the disconnect between people who have it so good and the eritreans actually living in eritrea and are suffereing. I can bet the person writing it can believe its easily possible to provide every eritrean with a laptop. I think that was probably the most hiliarious part of this article, i dont even know if its possible in the most developed nations of the world. In fact this whole article just shows the level of insensitivity and ignorances of the eritrean people who are inside eritrea. im sure you know eritrean tragedy are consistentally common as eritreans over 12000 of them have been killed and tortured by bedouns or drowned in the sea escaping the harsh conditions back home, endless military services, barely having anything to feed their families, consistally worried and robbed of their freedom with corrupted government officials whom can lock any one up as they please and throw away the keys. hmmm wouldnt you think solving this problem be most important before you can think of providing a laptop for each kid.

  13. How ironic to propose internet speed and chrome book for every child when every child does not even have food to eat!! Wake up people, first thing is first: Food and shelter with enough security to all Eritreans. The hindrance is HIGDEF and it has to GO!


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