Flag of Eritrea

Eritrea Economy Profile

Home > Factbook > Countries > Eritrea

Economy - overview

Since formal independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has faced many economic problems, including lack of financial resources and chronic drought. Eritrea has a command economy under the control of the sole political party, the People's Front for Democracy and Justice. Like the economies of many African nations, a large share of the population - nearly 80% in Eritrea - is engaged in subsistence agriculture, but the sector only produces a small share of the country's total output. Mining accounts for the lion's share of output.

The government has strictly controlled the use of foreign currency by limiting access and availability; new regulations in 2013 aimed at relaxing currency controls have had little economic effect. Few large private enterprises exist in Eritrea and most operate in conjunction with government partners, including a number of large international mining ventures, which began production in 2013. In late 2015, the Government of Eritrea introduced a new currency, retaining the name nakfa, and restricted the amount of hard currency individuals could withdraw from banks per month. The changeover has resulted in exchange fluctuations and the scarcity of hard currency available in the market.

While reliable statistics on Eritrea are difficult to obtain, erratic rainfall and the large percentage of the labor force tied up in military service continue to interfere with agricultural production and economic development. Eritrea's harvests generally cannot meet the food needs of the country without supplemental grain purchases. Copper, potash, and gold production are likely to continue to drive limited economic growth and government revenue over the next few years, but military spending will continue to compete with development and investment plans.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$9.402 billion (2017 est.)
$8.953 billion (2016 est.)
$8.791 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)
$5.813 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
5% (2017 est.)
1.9% (2016 est.)
2.6% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$1,600 (2017 est.)
$1,500 (2016 est.)
$1,500 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving
5.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
6% of GDP (2016 est.)
6.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 80.9% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 24.3% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 6.4% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.1% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 10.9% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -22.5% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 11.7% (2017 est.)
industry: 29.6% (2017 est.)
services: 58.7% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
50% (2004 est.)
Labor force
2.71 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 80%
industry: 20% (2004 est.)
Unemployment rate
5.8% (2017 est.)
10% (2016 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Budget
revenues: 2.029 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 2.601 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
34.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-9.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt
131.2% of GDP (2017 est.)
132.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
9% (2017 est.)
9% (2016 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate

NA

Stock of narrow money
$3.084 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.734 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$3.084 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$2.734 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$5.787 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.223 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Agriculture - products
sorghum, lentils, vegetables, corn, cotton, tobacco, sisal; livestock, goats; fish
Industries
food processing, beverages, clothing and textiles, light manufacturing, salt, cement
Industrial production growth rate
5.4% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$137 million (2017 est.)
-$105 million (2016 est.)
Exports
$624.3 million (2017 est.)
$485.4 million (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
gold and other minerals, livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small industry manufactures
Exports - partners
China 62%, South Korea 28.3% (2017)
Imports
$1.127 billion (2017 est.)
$1.048 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
machinery, petroleum products, food, manufactured goods
Imports - partners
UAE 14.5%, China 13.2%, Saudi Arabia 13.2%, Italy 12.9%, Turkey 5.6%, South Africa 4.6% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$236.7 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$218.4 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external
$792.7 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$875.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
nakfa (ERN) per US dollar -
15.38 (2017 est.)
15.375 (2016 est.)
15.375 (2015 est.)
15.375 (2014 est.)
15.375 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on Friday, November 27, 2020

Economy Comparison