Asmara — Africa has remarkable potential and capabilities to leverage on and expedite for regional integration, says Eritrea's Foreign Minister, Mr. Osman Saleh.
In opening remarks to the 23rd Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE) for Eastern Africa Tuesday, Mr. Saleh said the Eastern Africa region had the same capabilities.
"Our sub-region, the Horn of Africa, after decades of externally induced inter and intra-state conflicts, has begun to breathe air of hope and togetherness," he said.
"Peace and stability, critical prerequisite of regional integration, is a new opportunity that we can leverage on for regional integration."
Mr. Saleh said central to the recent hopeful environment prevailing in the region was the landmark peace deal signed between President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, last year in Asmara.
"The peace dividend of this historic event can simply be attested by the consequential engagements undertaken among the leaders and peoples of the sub-region in the past 15 months. This is what we need to capitalize on as we envisage materializing regional integration," the Minister said.
He said the combined human and natural resources of Eastern Africa were significantly enormous to transform the lives of each individual person in the region.
"The lofty ideals of regional economic integration might seem appealing on blueprints. However, it is judicious to design pragmatic policies and measureable projects," Mr. Saleh said.
"Without transforming our existing infrastructural capacities, both human and physical, be it regional trade or economic integration, will remain wishful and incomprehensible. Transformation and improvements of our connectivity through roads, railways, sea ports, airport and pipelines, will inevitably entail substantial financial and human capital as well as technological and energy capacities."
To do all this, the Minister said, Africa should value and mobilize her domestic resources.
"Africa already has enough lessons for falling victim of global financial institutions and corporate conglomerates," Mr. Saleh told high-level participants attending the meeting.
For its part, Eritrea is engaged in implementing transformative developmental policies and projects driven by its internal capacities, he said.
"At this momentous peace time, the can-do spirit of the Eritrean people and the government of Eritrea have embarked on to regain lost opportunities and attain a viable socio-economic transformation in the coming few years," added Mr. Saleh.
He said Eritrea's view of regional integration was guided by a 'simple and doable vision that is building strong regional blocks'.
The meeting on the theme; Leveraging New Opportunities for Regional Integration in Eastern Africa, is being attended by more than 200 economic experts and decision makers.