Among the multifaceted achievements of the country, the year 2011 marked as nodal point in Ethiopia's economic development strategy. In fact, it denoted a decisive paradigm shift from the country's conventional development strategy to climate resilient green economic development. This was a bold initiative that was taken by Ethiopia after a detailed research on the state of affairs of the country's economic situation through time.
Ethiopia formulated the Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) Strategy primarily because of several factors. These included because fossil fuel based energy utilization proved to be not only expensive taking away a huge amount of the country's net income but also because it contributed to the escalation pollution particularly in the urban centers of the country.
Apart from its national significance as a viable and sustainable economic strategy, the strategy is already contributing to Africa's regional development strategy as it is envisaged in Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which was deliberated on various UN sponsored forums.
The designing of the strategy was made under the back drop of alarming climatic and eco system degradation the country faced on annual recurrence. Suffice it to mention the devastating effects of the 1974, 1884-85 and the drought situation of the year 2000.
The CRGE is a strategy that is designed as a major content of Ethiopia's vision to become a middle income country by 2025. The rapid increase in green house gas emissions which was expected to increase in triple by 2030 from the level it was in 2010, coupled with the recurrent drought and irresponsible use of natural resources and heavy dependence on fossil fuel locked the economy from progressive development.
Ethiopia's economic development programme was redesigned based on agricultural modernization which would promote livestock and food production, effectively protecting and reestablishing the forest resource of the country, developing renewable energy resources to produce electric power for expansion of industries.
In general, the significance of the CRGE strategy of Ethiopia is based on turning the natural capital into other forms of capital without negatively interfering into the natural balance of the eco system but in fact contributing to the natural balance of nature.
Since 2010, the country had embarked on developing renewable energy resources from hydropower, wind farms, geothermal sources and solar energy projects. The countries of the Horn of Africa including Sudan, Djibouti are already getting a substantial amount of electricity while a grid system is already in progress to provide electric power for Kenya and possibly for Rwanda and South Sudan. This is in line with Ethiopia's regional power development strategy of networking Africa with hydroelectric power grid to contribute her part in Agenda 2063 and IGAD's vision of economic development for the Horn of Africa.
In terms of fighting global warming through participatory national soil and water conservation campaigns, every year, more than a 30 million of the population in rural areas of the country are engaged in massive rehabilitation of degraded lands and mountain ranges of the country. As this campaign is conducted every year, Ethiopia, through the CRGE strategy is making commendable contributions in reversing the hazards of climate change way before the international community has started taking actions in the area.
As the result of the implementation of the CRGE strategy, Ethiopia's general forest coverage has grown from 4% in the early 70s and 80s to about 14% to date. The participatory nature of campaigns on forestry is in fact a new approach by Ethiopia that has set an example for the rest of Africa.
As part of the CRGE strategy, Ethiopia has already developed a light railway urban transport service in Addis Ababa and the ultra modern electric railway line linking Ethiopia and Djibouti has already started operation. New railway project linking Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt has already been proposed by the leaders of the three countries promoting mutual economic benefit for the countries.
The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway is a new standard gauge international railway that serves as the backbone of the new Ethiopian National Railway Network. It provides landlocked Ethiopia with access to the sea, linking Ethiopia's capital of Addis Ababa with Djibouti and its Port of Doraleh. More than 95% of Ethiopia's trade passes through Djibouti, accounting for 70% of the activity at the Port of Djibouti.
The total railway capacity is 24.9 million tonnes of freight annually, with 6 million tonnes annually expected in 2023. These plans are accompanied by construction works at the Port of Doraleh to expand the cargo handling capacity from 6 to 14 million tonnes annually with the aim of reaching 10 million tonnes of cargo by 2022.
Ethiopia's CRGE strategy is already paving the way for trade relations between the neighbouring countries by using the above mentioned transport networks that utilize hydroelectric power which is highly cost effective and efficient in terms of time and service.
The development of industrial and agro industrial parks is a new innovation that Ethiopia has introduced into Africa. For instance ,the Hawassa eco-industrial park which specializes in textile and apparel producing firms is the first of its kind in Africa using hydroelectric power and equipped with zero liquid discharge technology. Ethiopia's manufacturing and agro industrial parks ( 12 in number so far) are export based and use modern technologies that are compliant to both regional and global environmental protection standards.
The comparative advantages in CRGE is demonstrated in its double prong importance in promoting food security through programmes like community based and participatory atmospheric carbon reduction projects has been supported by the World Bank and also in promoting rural health through the introduction of fuel efficient stoves and other rural technologies that would help to household health.
Waste to energy project that has been commissioned in Addis Ababa to generate electric power from dry wastes in the city is another new innovation that has been introduced for the first time in Africa.
One of the most conspicuous components of the CRGE is the development and modernization of the agriculture and health sector. The Ethiopian government deployed more than 30,000 agriculture and health extension workers to promote agricultural productivity and promotion of primary health care programmes in rural Ethiopia.
This is a new experience both in Africa and at the global level. As the result of the support provided to farmers, thousands of farmers were able not only to be food self sufficient but also managed to upscale their economic activities towards small scale investments in agro industry and small scale manufacturing. This was possible as the result of the support provided by the government in the context of the implementation of the CRGE strategy.
The agriculture extension programme focused on specialization, market orientation and diversification of agricultural production, maximization of the potentials of livestock, small scale irrigation and improved access to finance while the main focus of the health extension programme is hygiene and environmental sanitation, disease prevention and control, family health and health education and communication.
All the more, as the result of the introduction of the CRGE strategy Ethiopia has managed to become one of the fastest growing countries with a double digit economic growth for almost 15 years. In spite of the recurrent drought that has become a national challenge, Ethiopia has continued to effectively prove that the CRGE strategy has both national and global significance.