20 September 2017

Ethiopia: Wrapping Up the Last Decade of Development

We have now embarked on the last year of the first Ethiopian decade into the third millennium. The world has changed a lot since the end of the last millennium with international politics and economics taking radical twists. Especially, the last quarter of a century or so has seen unprecedented rapid changes in Information and communication technologies and subsequent new economic and political orders. Globalization is becoming a reality as we are witnessing a lot of changes due to it everyday.

At a time when change has never been this fast, all efforts are usually geared towards keeping up. However, we still need to stop for a while and reflect on the past just so that we may get a clear picture of where we were and the things we stumbled upon our journey. Past experiences play a positive role in making our future bright. Accordingly, this article sets out to highlight some of Ethiopia's achievements over the past decade.

For the last two decades, the rapid economic growth and its manifestations have brought sunshine back on to the country which is scaring off the darkness that seemed to have engulfed it. With various international and regional organizations highlighting and giving recognition to these miraculous turnarounds in Ethiopia's economic performance in their regular reports, the Western media started to address these positive reports about the country. The rising number of such reports and the tangible mega-projects on the ground seem to have pushed these media into taking a closer look at the country's overall development achievements. Such a move has diversified their reports a bit as they got more than they bargained once they actually set their feet in to the country.

The media fatigue by the international audience on how certain countries and regions are portrayed might also have contributed to the change. The portrayal of Africa as a place of hunger, extreme poverty and backward people living along some of the most dangerous wildlife in the world can no longer be sold as easily as it used to be as things are changing in Africa. Many African nations are rising with Ethiopia registering an exemplary development over the last twenty years. There is the proliferation of information and communication technology in the continent. Therefore, these media outlets have been forced to actively engage in the economic, social and political developments in the continent and in Ethiopia as the audience has grown sick of the old sporadic reports of hunger, wildlife, armed conflict, HIV/AIDs and the likes which are not currently the exact features of many nations in Africa.

As one of the champions of the African cause, Ethiopia has risen to become the front runner in painting a positive image of the continent. The long sought marvel and pride at the international stage has been steadily building for years now that the country is mostly associated with progress, bright future and renaissance in all spectrums.

During the past decade, the country has been recognized as the third fastest growing economy in the world, trailblazer of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the World's Best Tourism Destination for the year 2015. Its capital Addis Ababa has also been acknowledged as the third biggest United Nations hub following New York and Brussels. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has also been named as 'Man of the Year' 2015 by Africa World News newspaper for sustaining the country's rapid economic growth.

A report by the World Bank Group entitled "Ethiopia's Great Run: The Growth Acceleration and How to Pace it" stated that the country is on the track to achieve its goal of becoming middle income status by 2025. The report applauded the uniqueness Ethiopian policies that ensured sustainable economic growth for over a dozen years.

Dr. Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) argued that Ethiopia would become Africa's biggest economy by 2050. Dr. Carlos weighed prospects and challenges for Nigeria, South Africa-current economic giant in Africa, and the resource rich Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the fast growing Ethiopia. In his conclusion of the challenges and the opportunities for the above listed nations he said Ethiopia would come out as top performer in Africa by 2050.

The Former Executive Secretary said: "As the nation is close to 100 million, Ethiopia is Africa's third most populous, and has posted blistering economic growth in the past decade or so. More importantly, it is in a fast move to narrowing the infrastructure gaps, laying down a flurry of roads, railways and power projects, which would give it a competitive advantage in the region, particularly over DR Congo that is notoriously and poorly connected."

Carlos Lopes took his own parameters to arrive at his conclusion. However, it seems like Ethiopia awaits a daunting task to turn his prophecies into reality. After all, Nigeria and South Africa are the biggest economies in Africa with DR Congo mustering one of the richest resources.

Therefore, let's take a look at what sort of capacities Ethiopia has been projected to overtake these visions in the coming thirty-five years. To have a better understanding of where Ethiopia is currently and where it has been tipped to get in the coming 35 years, let's just take a brief look at the World Bank data for Ethiopia.

Ethiopia

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