By Tsegay Hagos*
Historical manuscripts indicate that Ethiopia is one of the four origins of ancient great civilizations ever occurred on this planet. The Axumite civilization which was flourished in the northern part of the country should be noted as true artifact of its civilization. It was a civilization that had ruled up to the South Arabia. However, after the downfall of the Axumite Kingdom, the country has experienced many up and downs. Persistent drought, dictatorship, lack of good governance and other natural and man-made afflictions have created negative impact on its progress. But over the last 25 years, Ethiopia has awaken from years of distressing trauma.
Now, thanks to the ruling party’s feasible policies and strategies, the country is able to register astonishing double digit economic growth that was witnessed by the World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank and other continental and international organizations. Millions of citizens who were immersed in absolute poverty for several decades have been lifted out. The livelihood of agrarian society is changing into manufacturing in a fastest pace. The life expectancy of Ethiopians has shown significant improvement, elongated from 45 to 65 years. Due to all these fruitful accomplishments, Ethiopia is rising in an optimistic scenario to recover its ancient prominence.
According to the African Development Bank, despite severe drought (the most severe in 50 years) affected some part of the country, the highest growth of Ethiopia’s economy in 2014/15 is expected to continue in 2016 and 2017, while public investment is expected to ease infrastructure bottlenecks and bolster economic structural transformation. The drought has tested the self-reliance and economic endurance. It could be able to feed its people with little international donation. This could prove that the country’s economy would resist such seasonal problems.
It is repeatedly reported that the nation has planned to realize the middle income status by 2025. It has been industriously working to attain this goal. To promote manufacturing and industrialization, several industrial parks have been constructed in different parts of the country. Meanwhile, the industrial sector would be expected to lead the agricultural sector. During that time, the country would export agricultural value added products to maximize its foreign currency earnings. Moreover, the nation has aimed to generate its hard currency earning through remittance and tourism sectors as well.
As far as investment is concerned, Ethiopia is flouring as one of best investment attracting nation in Africa. Its suitable climate, peace and stability contributed to be preferred as front runner investment destination of the continent. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been hugely enhanced over the last two decades. The Ethiopian Investment Commission said recently that it has offered license for 130 investment projects with 20.5 billion Birr registered capital over the first quarter of this fiscal year. Public Relations Head of the Commission Getahun Negash told WIC that among the investment projects offered license 101 are foreign direct investments and the rest 29 are domestic investors. The investment sector will be expected to register tremendous development during the Second Growth and Transformation (GTPII).
The agriculture which was the backbone of the Ethiopian economy for centuries is going in a very smooth track, despite some setbacks. The government was aware of changing and transforming the sector to secure food sufficiency. The safety net programme which was launched in urban and rural areas of the country has brought incredible achievements. Many rural households have improved their livelihood by the direct support of government. The community based social and economic movements should be recognized as success stories of the nation ever performed in the last two decades. Health extension programmes have been implemented to prevent communicable diseases. To provide fair and affordable medical service to the people, the government has been built health centers in every rural district.
The same is true in urban areas. Though Ethiopia is still listed as one of the least urbanized country in the world, its urbanization rate is growing at 3.8 per annum. If it continues by this pace, 42.3 million Ethiopians are expected to live in urban centers by 2037. Realizing this, the government has been striving to address the challenges which could be caused by overpopulation in urban areas. Major social services and infrastructures have been built to solve the consequences due to future population explosion.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ethiopia has attained commendable progress in achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by hugely reducing the infant and maternal mortality rates. The prevalence of communicable disease such as malaria has been decreased by the coordinated and concerted efforts of the government, non-governmental organizations and the public. Speaking at the National Conference on Urban Health held from April 3-4, 2017 in the capital, State Minister of Health Dr. Kebede Worku said that the government has been implementing the Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP) all over the country in the five year Growth and Transformation Plan to enhance the health and life standard of Ethiopians.
Concerning education, Ethiopia has maintained remarkable progress in terms primary, secondary and tertiary education developments. Currently, there are more than 30 government universities all over the country. This is big leap forward compared from the previous regimes. But sill many works left to ensure quality education. The 70/30 enrollment ratio prioritizes for natural science classes so as to boost science, technology and innovation. In short, the curriculum has been designed to inspire, support and empower the youth to engage in various entrepreneurial activities. That is why many unemployed young graduates have been providing financial and material support to create their own job. This optimistic endeavor would be expected to reduce poverty.
Another indicator for Ethiopia’s progress is the infrastructural development. The nation has upgraded its devastated infrastructure in a new and modern way. According to the World Bank 2011 report, infrastructure contributed 0.6 per cent to Ethiopia’s GDP growth in the last decade. However, because of the huge infrastructural expansion in the nation, now it could be able to contribute 3 per cent to its annual per capita growth. The sophistication and modernization of the Ethiopian airlines, rapid expansion of roads and the proliferation of mega hydro power plants like the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) have been recognized as major motivating engines of the Ethiopian economy.
Apart from political aspect, the country has been undertaking various activities for the enhancement of democratization. The free and fair elections which were witnessed by local and international observers would be prime justifications for political achievements. However, rent seeking, corruption, bureaucratic red-tape and other malpractices have not yet alleviated. To that fact, maladministration induced unrest was broke out in some Oromia and Amhara states. Using human right as an excuse, some anti peace and development individuals try to hijack the legitimate public grievances for fulfilling their political interest. But the government has been working to address the administrative indisposition through collaboration and consultation with people.
Generally, Ethiopia has aimed a lot to be role model for other developing countries. It has already resumed the way to be the scientific and technological hub of horn Africa in particular and in the entire continent in general. The peacekeeping mission that has been safeguarding peace and stability of some civil war affected African states should be rewarded and appreciated as its symbol of prominence. Its decisive role in the African Union has been strengthening since the establishment of the continental body in its capital in 1963. Ethiopia, once noted as war and drought stricken nation is now started to be acknowledged by the international community as one of the few fastest growing economies in the world. Thus, sustaining this amazing economic growth would be pivotal in realizing the renaissance and greatness of Ethiopia.
*The Ethiopian Herald/Allafrica