Eritrea welcomes world economic re-ordering

Thu May 21, 2009 9:14am GMT

By Andrew Cawthorne

ASMARA (Reuters) - President Isaias Afwerki believes the financial crisis is a welcome restructuring of the global economic order and vindication of Eritrea's much-vaunted principles of self-reliance and sustainability.

"People learn things the hard way sometimes," he said.

The former Marxist guerrilla leader has ruled one of Africa's smallest economies since its 1993 formal independence from Ethiopia. His government avows resistance to foreign aid.

Isaias said Eritrea, like other nations, had of course felt some pain from higher import costs -- particularly oil and food -- and lower remittances from abroad. But in the grand scheme, "these are very small things," he said.

"The good thing about it is that the global economic situation is in the process of transformation," the 63-year-old told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

"It is a wake-up call to many who have been preaching ideals about the functioning of economies in their own ways and trying to substitute real economy for finance and speculation ... what I call the speculative economy or the economy of speculation."

Eritrea's 4 million people are feeling the pinch, especially due to recent drought, but Isaias said there was no starvation and his country was better off than neighbours.

"For us, it's a moral boost, because for the last 18 years, we've been focusing on the real economy -- roads, ports, airports, electricity, water, housing, services, health, education, food security. Not a single penny has been wasted.   Continued...

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