By Prince Kurupati
There were scenes of jubilation in Asmara, the capital of Eritrea when the Ethiopian Prime Minister and his convoy passed through the Asmara streets en route to the Eritrean state house to meet Isaias Afwerki, the Eritrean president. After some deliberations, both the Eritrean President and Ethiopian Prime Minister finally came out and addressed a jovial and emotional crowd, stating what was already obvious i.e. the two countries had finally agreed to end the 20-year war between their respective countries.
Citizens in both countries were ecstatic when the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal was signed; it meant that they could connect with relatives they had last seen over 20 years ago.
While the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal is undoubtedly a huge achievement and cause for celebrations for all Eritreans and Ethiopians, it is also at the same time a huge achievement for the Horn of Africa and the African continent as a whole. Below, let’s look at what this Peace Deal means for Africa as a whole.
Political Transformation in the Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa has been a problematic region for Africa as most of Africa’s conflicts were concentrated there. Over the past years, many conflicts have emerged and subsequently many solutions. However, none of the solutions has been long-lasting. For most people, it had become futile to proffer solutions on conflicts in the Horn of Africa as history was awash with many examples of how dozens of solutions had failed to bring peace and security to the region.
What the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal does is that it restores confidence in humanity while at the same time transforming the region. Through this Peace Deal, anyone and everyone can note that it is never late to save humanity and seek peace no matter the circumstances. What this Peace Deal also does is that it sets a (good) precedence. Not saying that the deal will not last, but in case it does break down, there is a reason now why governments should seek the path of peace and security as they can draw examples from this Peace Deal. The precedence is not exclusive to Eritrea and Ethiopia only but extends also to other countries that may be involved in a conflict across the continent.
However, perhaps the biggest benefit of this Peace Deal to Africa is that it politically transforms the Horn of Africa. The region has for decades now carried the banner of being ‘unstable’ and whenever examples of unstable countries/regions were sought in the past, the Horn of Africa came to mind. Now, that will no longer be the case, the heavy negative banner has been lifted off the Horn of Africa’s shoulders and it can now plan for its future without being constantly reminded of how unstable it is as a region.
It’s possible to attain peace and security
Another major reason why the Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal is important to Africa is that it reminds the African continent that it’s possible to attain peace and security. There are several conflicts right now on the African continent notably the Anglophone Crisis. Cameroonian separatists are fighting with the Cameroon government forces due to perceived marginalisation. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Peace Deal, therefore, restores the faith that it’s possible for differing parties to discuss their grievances, reach a compromise and pave the way for the attainment of peace and security in the respective regions or countries.
Reduces political refugees
The refugee problem has been a hot topic in Africa and across the world over the past few years. In Africa, the increase in xenophobic cases especially in Malawi, Zambia, and South Africa among others is worrying and it has been attributed to the refugee problem. In some countries especially Kenya and Libya, there are also reports of disturbances emanating from the refugee problem with the latter being accused of engaging in modern-day slave trading through selling captured refugees. Beyond the African borders, the politics of most European countries and also the US has radically transformed and more attention is now being put on migration issues and policies; all this down to Africa’s refugee problem. Studies have shown that a high proportion of refugees come from Eritrea both political and economic refugees. However, with the recently signed Peace Deal, there is likely going to be a massive reduction in the number of Eritrean citizens running from the country and seeking refuge in foreign nations. This will, in turn, lead to a fall in the ripple effects of the refugee problem such as xenophobia.