A discussion around the table on Natural Resource Development in Eritrea organized by the Embassy of the State of Eritrea was held in the city of London with industry experts, representatives of financial institutions, and potential investors. Also taking part in the discussions members of the diplomatic community from South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, German, Italy, Bolivia, and Venezuela along with press from different organizations. Eritrean professionals from various fields also attended the event. The aim of the event was to create an effective platform for communication and information sharing.
The event brought together a number of high profile investors with specific interests in Eritrea. These include representatives from Mining firms already operating in Eritrea as well as potential investors who have expressed a keen interest in exploring the lucrative opportunities that lay forth. Introducing the participants to the program Miss Yohana Paulos PA to the Ambassador provided participants with digital information package, which provides a holistic picture on achievements, challenges, and the current situation. Opening remarks was given by Mr Yared Tesfay Director of Media affairs representing H.E. Estefanos Habtemariam Ambassador of the state of Eritrea in the UK and Ireland. He welcomed guest speakers thereby updating participants on opportunities and Embassy’s efforts on future engagements with potential investors.
The discussion was chaired by Ms. Ruby Sandhu a Business Ethics & Human Rights Lawyer. Ms. Ruby who has in the past travelled to Eritrea on a number of mandates and missions also gave her version of accounts that depict the real situation on the ground as she discussed her experience and findings. Ms. Ruby also touched on the peace and stability inside the country and the attractive environment for Businesses. She further noted on the expropriation efforts by the Eritrean government from the mining revenue, briefly touching upon how Media reporting on Eritrea is sensationalized.
After her opening remarks Ms. Ruby invited Dr Tim Williams for his presentation on his experiences in Eritrea. Dr Tim who is the CEO of Andiamo exploration, which has been operating in Eritrea since the early 90s. He gave an insightful presentation on his experience on the ground in Eritrea Mining & Natural Resources in Eritrea followed by another presentation by Todd Romaine who is the Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility with Nevsun Resources Limited. Dr Tim’s presentation focused in giving an overview in to the mining industry and background on Eritrea’s nascent mining industry together with the good mining law. He stressed on the strong part of the Eritrean government into honoring to the contract and good working environment emphasizing on zero corruption. He further went on to admire the reliable machineries and operators in the country with which you can trust whilst doing the job on the ground.
Mr Todd followed Dr Tim’s presentation also supporting on zero corruption and went on to address BMSC’s (Bisha Mining Share Holders Company) operations in Eritrea and the relationship with the Government of Eritrea. He also gave participants on how Nevsun’s experience particularly focusing on corporate social responsibilities and Human Rights in Eritrea to which he attributed the main challenge as poverty. Mr Todd also discussed business operations in Eritrea and the recent HRIA (Human Rights Impact Assessment) and the company’s vision to generate shared prosperity through its business operations. The objective means much more than just generating economic benefit. It also means protecting the safety and health of employees, mitigating environmental impacts from its activities, respecting the human rights of its workers and the residents of the communities in which it operates, and contributing to the sustainable development of those communities. Following the presentations interesting questions and comments flowed back and forth amongst the participants creating an atmosphere that was favorable to the Embassy of Eritrea to take note on the strong and weak points of Eritrea’s engagement in the natural resources sector. Moderated by Ms. Ruby the feedback was shaped in a manner on taking a learning curve on experiences gained in other countries.
Giving his closing remarks and acknowledgements in conclusion Mr Yared Tesfay noted on the aim to actively identify and build relationships with potential investors as well nurture and solidify the relationship with existing partners. In effect the Embassy will act as a bridge between the relevant institutions in Eritrea and investors so as to ensure a smoother facilitation of the Investment life cycle. Mr Yared Tesfay finally pointed out this will be achieved by ensuring greater communication and information sharing between all the stakeholders.