22 September 2018

Eritrea: Peace Dividend

Samson Redae, 45, is unloading sacks of garments brought from Asmara, Eritrea, to Adigrat, a town located about 38Km inland from the border area in Ethiopia.

He is one of the hundreds of Eritreans who cross the border daily to take advantage of the recent opportunity the historic rapprochement between the two countries has provided them.

"I had to go through town to find a buyer," he says.

Eritreans are flocking past a border that had remained sealed for two-decade after a bloody war between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the late 1990s led to the deterioration of diplomatic relations. But following the recent rapid warming of relations between the two, and the opening of borders earlier this month, communities that faced the brunt of the Ethio-Eritrean stalemate have been quick to renew their economic relations.

Eritreans are crossing the border to sell livestock, garments and electronic products, while their Ethiopian counterparts make the trip to Asmara to sell teff, red pepper, cement, charcoal, oil and cement bricks.

Even the lack of a common currency has not hampered the trade. Black market dealers operate openly in Adigrat and at the border town of Zalambesa, exchanging 100 Naqfa for 135 Br.

Crossing the borders has not presented a problem either. Travelers have to register at the border, present valid identification and declare possessions without any visa requirements.

However, observers are warning of hazards under the optimism the informal economic activities may present. The large number of Eritreans crossing the border to seek asylum in Ethiopia, and the lack of an institutionalised cross-border trading procedure, has become reason for worry, reports BEHAILU AYELE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER. PLEASE READ THE FULL AGENDA HERE.


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