Rethinking Eritrea

A conversation with:
Seth Kaplan
Professorial Lecturer,
Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS),
Johns Hopkins University;
Author, Eritrea’s Economy: Ideology and Opportunity

Bronwyn Bruton
Deputy Director, Africa Center
Atlantic Council;
Eritrea: Coming in from the Cold

Anthony Carroll
Nonresident Senior Associate, Africa Program
Center for Strategic and International Studies;
Vice President, 
Manchester Trade Limited

Dan Connell
Visiting Scholar, African Studies Center
Boston University

Welcome by:
J. Peter Pham
Vice President and Director, Africa Center
Atlantic Council

Often in the news for its high emigration flows to Europe, conflicts with neighboring Ethiopia and Djibouti, and controversy over human rights abuses and its mandatory and indefinite national service conscription program, Eritrea remains one of the most isolated countries in the world. Over the past eighteen months, Atlantic Council researchers have been permitted to access the country and its leadership. The results of this research have culminated in two reports. The first, authored by Bronwyn Bruton, examines the deterioration of the US-Eritrean relationship since the country gained independence in 1991 and makes the case that it is in the best interest of the United States to re-engage with Eritrea at a critical time in the Horn of Africa. 

The second report, authored by Seth Kaplan, a fragile states expert and professorial lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, examines the interplay between the ideology of Eritrea’s leaders, the state of its economy, and the human rights and migration issues that capture news headlines. The report lays out how the Eritrean leadership’s ideological emphasis on self-reliance and sustainability has produced a stagnating, inward-looking economy and how these financial woes have reduced Eritrea’s ability to grow, create jobs, and reform its controversial national service program. Finally, Kaplan argues that, while Eritrea has a number of sectors that are ripe for development, much reform is needed, and the country can learn from successful reform processes undertaken by countries with similar ideologies, such as Rwanda and China. 

Kaplan and Bruton will be joined by Anthony Carroll¸ a senior associate in the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and lawyer and business consultant with thirty-five years of experience working in Africa, and Dan Connell, a visiting scholar in the African Studies Center at Boston University. Connell witnessed firsthand the Eritrea struggle for independence before becoming a prominent critic of the Eritrean regime.

On Twitter? Follow @ACAfricaCenter and use #RethinkingEritrea

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