(NASDAQ) Highlighting Eritrea as An Investment Destination

This is not a test, but: How many have heard of a country named

Eritrea? Do you know where it is? Okay, you’re much smarter than I

thought. Yes, it is a country in Africa and to be precise, in the Horn

of Africa. As is mostly the case in Africa, news from poverty-ridden

Eritrea is negative – an autocratic government, no press freedom, no

civil rights, no investor protection, no anything. So why you may ask

am I highlighting this country?

Well, guess what, it has oil. For decades the country was mired in

fighting, first among themselves and then with every neighboring

country. The East African news website amoraview.com published a very

well-written article detailing the trials and tribulations of Eritrea

with one memorable paragraph: “A lifetime dictator, Eritrea’s first

and only president managed to establish the world’s nastiest tyranny.

Soon after assuming power, the long time rebel leader started by

assassinating fellow handicapped fighters, who merely asked for better

life. The fledgling state of Eritrea, with its dross economy went to

war with all its neighbors, gaining nothing but increasing isolation

and crisis. No one can expect any good from a country with no

democracy and a president who has rescinded the constitution.”

But after decades of being shunned by world powers, someone ran to the

top of a sand dune and yelled, “We got oil!” And the next thing you

know, the European Union, in all its pomposity, started mending

fences. Countries like Britain and Germany among others beat a path to

the Eritrean front door and soon the Italian Vice Minister of Foreign

Affairs had signed an agreement on behalf of the EU restoring

relations. Surprise.

Companies such as Soma Oil and Gas arrived with a pot of money and

began the exploration. Just as an aside, one of the major stockholders

of that company is Lord Howard of Lympne CH, QC. He once went by the

name of Michael Howard, the leader of the Conservative Party in the UK

who, had they won the election, would have been the second Jewish

Prime Minister of Britain, the first being Benjamin Disraeli. Yes, I’m

full of useless info.

Other companies now involved in exploring and extracting oil are

Tullow Oil (TLW), Italy’s Eni (ENI) oil company, and the joint

Chinese-Eritrean venture Defba Oil Share Company.

The African Development Bank has high hopes that the country will open

its economy to more foreign investment and revamp its government. But

when Djibouti Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf recently said that

they have excellent relations with all their neighbors except, yes,

Eritrea, you know there is an issue.

Let’s hope that, as has happened in other countries, the Eritrean

people soon begin to say enough is enough and demand better treatment

so that prosperity can then be shared by all. Do you think oil

companies will help in this regard? I’m not holding my breath.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of

the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Source: DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine