12 August 2018

Ethiopia: PM Abiy's Reform Efforts - the Past and the New Initiatives Should Be Integrated

Photo: Addis Fortune
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
opinion

The ongoing reforms of all rounded policies under the leadership of pm Abiy together with the past failure and achievements registered in the political and socioeconomic fronts should be added and integrated together so that Ethiopia can maximize its all rounded experiences to further unify and advance its democratic and development process. Ethiopia has introduced new political system called democratic federal which has addressed the century old national questions of the Ethiopian people. Knowing that democracy and development are inseparable, the government also practiced democratic developmental state economic model to basically change the livelihood of the people. Hence, Ethiopia has achieved in the political and economic fronts which can be noticed throughout the nation. We are now at the dawn of a new era. The international image of the country is drastically altered to be associated with fast economic and political development which could collectively show the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Dr. Abiy led government, among others, has identified clearly the bottlenecks of the country and is on its way to transform the nation into another success story. The first thing EPRDF has done is to identify the main enemy of the nation and put sound policies in place to confront it. Accordingly, poverty was identified as the primarily enemy of the country and strategies were produced to overcome it. The external and internal factors which contributed hugely to remain in poverty are not the main source of problems of the country, however, they emanated from poverty. Hence, beating poverty would eliminate them rightly.

The government designed agricultural led industrialization policy aiming at boosting productivity of the vast rural areas which cover 85% of the total population to ensure food security. The efforts done so far in the rural areas to support farmers boost productivity enabled the country to manage food security in one hand and create enabling environment for manufacturing and industry, tourism and service sectors to take the lead. To keep the economic development fast and steady, political stability is a must. Therefore, factors which create local political instability were identified and are addressed fairly. The external factors, though remain a threat, are addressed through having a policy which promotes good neighborhood and mutual benefit based on mutual trust. Besides, the massive efforts accomplished in the education, health and environment protection areas, the country has been underway massive political, economic and social transformations. The activities done in the areas of infrastructure, tourism and investment sectors are something which are incomparable by any standards in the developing world.

To make it short, the government committed towards improving continuously the livelihood of its citizens by putting sound policies in place. Accordingly, Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) was required to basically transform the country towards middle income statues. Hence, let's see the achievements and the circumstances the country is found currently.

The GTP phase one aimed at creating enabling environment for industry and manufacturing sectors to take the lead by replacing agriculture led industry policy has fairly met the target. The five 2011-2015 five year national plan, GTP 1, was extensively discussed by the government and people of Ethiopia regarding its benefit and the means to execute it. The plan set annul economic growth of at least 11% has made the economy to grow at 10.1% which is high by the standard of World Bank and IMF standards. Hence, the annual average per-capital-income has surpassed the amount set during the plan period reaching 700 dollars from 200 dollars before five years. The level of poverty that stood at 38% in 2005 has gone down to reach 29% by 2011. The research also indicated that the level of poverty has decreased both in rural and urban centers which are estimated to be 22% by now. Interestingly, the government commitment and the right policies have together reduced the poverty from 56% to 22% in just 15 years. These achievements are no where seen in the African continent. The fair distribution of wealth and pro-poor policies make Ethiopia unique in its struggle to reduce poverty, hence healthy economic growth. What is more interesting is that the share of agriculture sector to the total economy reduced to 45% in 2011 which was close to 80 to 90% before ten years. The figure is expected to reach 40% by now. The agriculture, service sector, industry, manufacturing sector grew 6.6%, 10.7%, 20%, 13% respectively which collectively shows that the country is in the right place to maintain its health economic growth.

The plan incorporated into the GTP 1 was to raise the export so that Ethiopia can get relief of foreign currency reserve. Accordingly, planned much works were inline done towards achieving this goal. Hence, Ethiopia gained 3.2 billion dollars far from its target to get 5 billion dollars from export items by 2015 fiscal year. It was debated due to the international financial crisis. However, still the export gain cannot cover the money used to import goods. What is more promising is that the gap is getting narrow.

The second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP 2) that extends from 2016 to 2020 holds a decisive role in lifting the country from poor status to middle income status. By addressing the shortcomings observed during the GTP 1 period and other new strategies, the GTP is responsible to make poverty history. The change would be structural transformation. For example, it is expected to transform the agriculture led to industry led economy besides it is designed to increase all sectors growth by four fold. The export revenue will be reaching five billion dollars by 2020 raising its share to 25% and ultimately pushing the entire share all the way up to 40% by 2025. The end result of the commitment and right policy of Ethiopia to make poverty history can be briefly summarized as follows.

The country is close to reach the status of middle income status in the coming five years. The social livelihood can be a witness that the economy has brought miracle improvements. IMF and World Bank certified that Ethiopia is among the few fast economy growing countries in the world. As a result, potential investors flowing making it the third largest direct investment receiver in the continent following Nigeria and South Africa who are oil and mineral rich countries. Ethiopia managed to save more than 15 million food vulnerable citizens caused by Eli-no with their cattle by itself. Also, the country is reportedly said to have increased its foreign currency from ever increasing tourists. For example, it is planned 2 million tourists will visit the next years where it can gain billions of dollars. Ethiopia is the largest peace keeping force producing country and refugee hosting country in the continent. As a result, Ethiopia is called as peace stabilizer of the whole region.

Concluding remarks

Ethiopia started to reach where it is now from scratch. In the last 20 years, miracle economic and political gains were achieved which laid foundation to collectively beat poverty and alter the bad image of the country as far as poverty is concerned. The political stability, sound policies and commitment of the government and the people at large make Ethiopia to be headlines of the international Medias. It is now mentioned everywhere and anytime regarding its successful peace keeping mission, economic growth and its health engagement to stabilize and integrate economically the region. For example, the financial times recently came up with astonishing story that Ethiopia achieved to be in 63th from 109 regarding its economic status which is something interesting and inspirational for the people and the government.

However, the challenges are not being forgotten. It is widely known that the success observed in the political and economic areas did not come easily. The rent seeking mentality, failure of some authorities to execute policies, the domestic unrests, external political instability are intact. If the government does not take harsh measures against corrupt officials, anti peace elements, put proactive foreign policy regarding Egypt and Eritrea, the ambitious plans set to completely transform the country could be delayed if not obscured. Therefore, the choice is between going back and going forward, if not measures taken against rampant corruption, anti-peace elements and the likes.

The new reforms of Dr Abiy should be given time so that he can practically realize to benefit Ethiopia's vision of progressing in the democratization and development process.

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