Ethiopia Ready to Share Experiences of Economic

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By Dr Koang Tutlam Dung   (01 June  2014)


ON May 28, Ethiopia marked the 23rd anniversary of the downfall of the dictatorial military regime in the country. A combined rebel force led by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) finally chased away the military junta that had terrorised the people for seventeen years, thereby ushering in a new political dispensation and unprecedented economic and social development, which the country is willing to share experiences with sisterly African countries.


Despite the glorious past, Ethiopia's history in the recent past has been marred by famine and war.


The country's existence as a sovereign state dates back more than two thousand years.


Ethiopia is the only black African country, which successfully resisted western colonisation.


Numerous remains of monuments, palaces, churches and artifacts from archeological findings scattered throughout the country are clear evidence of such a glorious past.


But, this civilisation and glorious past had been declining in the last century reaching its lowest point in the 1990s when the country was embroiled in a brutal civil war and economic crisis.


Wrong economic policies pursued by the military junta and recurrent droughts resulted in low agricultural production and widespread famine which caused the deaths of millions of Ethiopian people.


As a result, the country became dependent on food handouts from donors.


However, this unfortunate history of the recent past has been changing for the better following the demise of the military regime on May 28, 1991.
The political dispensation established following the military junta answered the questions of democracy, equal participation and group rights with the establishment of a decentralised federal system.
As a result, peace and tranquility reign in the country and the people and government were able to turn their full attention to development.
This, coupled with appropriate policies adopted by the government enabled the economy to grow in excess of 10 percent GDP per annum for seven consecutive years up to 2010.
Encouraged by this success, government launched during the 2010/11 budget year, an audacious economic plan, widely known as Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) to sustain the double digit growth and transform the structure of the economy.
The main goals of the GTP include among others, maintaining at least 11 percent economic growth, double the size of the economy in five years and transforming the structure of the economy from largely agrarian to a manufacturing base.
A review of three years progress of the GTP has shown that the country is on course to achieve these goals.
GDP growth in the budget year ending July 7, 2013 stood at 9.7 percent, while key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and services have registered 7.1 percent, 18.5 percent and 9.9 percent growth rates, respectively.
Government also spent 70 percent of its budget on pro-poor sectors such as education, health, agriculture, water and sanitation as well as rural roads construction.
As a result, 2.5 million people were lifted out of poverty and the level of absolute poverty came down to 26 percent from the previous 29.8 percent.
Structural transformation of the economy was also found to be on the right track with the share of agriculture in the economy going down to 42.9 percent from 46.5 percent, while that of manufacturing going up to 12.4 percent from 10.3 percent.
Although the 9.7 percent GDP growth rate falls short of the double digit envisaged under GTP, it nonetheless puts the country among the fastest growing economies in the world.
This achievement has gained international recognition with Time magazine and the French Trade Credit and Insurance Group COFACE, putting the country among the few emerging economies likely to overtake the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa) in the near future.
In addition, Ethiopia recently got its first sovereign credit rating of a B from three credible institutions - Standard & Poor's Financial Services, Moody's and Fitch Ratings.
It is believed that these recognitions will help the country mobilise more resources to fuel the current's economic growth.
This has been an incredible journey for Ethiopia, travelling from a "basket case" to a dynamic economic power house.
Officially, Ethiopia is the 7th biggest economy in Africa and the 69th in the world, with US$118.2 billion PPP (Purchasing Power Parity).
This success has come about due to the vision and determination of the ruling party, EPRDF, particularly its former leader the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who is considered to be the architect of economic development.
The current government under the leadership of Prime Minister Haile Mariam Deslign is also doing extremely well under a very difficult world economic situation.
As the only un-colonised country in Africa, Ethiopia was in the forefront in the fight to free the continent from the yoke of colonialism.
Ethiopia has once again found itself in the forefront of the fight against poverty and underdevelopment. It then believed that the continent as a whole should be independent from colonial subjugation.
It now believes the entire people of the African continent should get the economic development they have been longing for.
It is in this regard that Ethiopia is willing to share experiences of its economic success with sisterly African countries like Zimbabwe.
As Zimbabwe has launched the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), which has many commonalities with the Ethiopian GTP, both sides can benefit from comparing notes.
It is therefore encouraging to note that Harare and Addis Ababa are taking the lead and will soon be signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
I hope other institutions shall follow suit. I also call upon the private sector in Zimbabwe to take advantage of the growth in Ethiopia to invest or do business.
Dr Koang Tutlam Dung is the Ambassador of Ethiopia in Zimbabwe.

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