By Zeray Hailemariam
Ethiopia has introduced new political system called democratic federal system which has addressed the century old national questions of the Ethiopian people.
Knowing that democracy and development are inseparable, the government has practiced democratic developmental state economic model to basically change the livelihood of its people.
Hence, Ethiopia has gained achievements in the political and economic fronts which can be practically noticed throughout the nation.
We are now at the dawn of a new era. The image of the country is drastically altered and is associated with fast economic and political development which could collectively show the light at the end of the tunnel.
The EPRDF led government, among others, has identified clearly the bottlenecks of the country and is on its way to transform the nation into a 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 are not the main sources of problems to the country which made it remain in poverty for long, however, they emanated from poverty. Hence, beating poverty would eliminate them rightly.
The government designed Agricultural- ed Industrialization policy aiming at boosting productivity of the vast rural areas which cover 85 percent of the total population to ensure food security. The efforts done so far in the rural areas to support farmers augment 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 on the other hand.
To keep the economic development fast and steady, political stability is a must. Therefore, factors which create local political instability were identified and 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.
In addition to the massive efforts accomplished in the education, health and environment protection areas, the country has been executing 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 is showing commitment towards improving 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 status. Hence, let us see the achievements and the circumstances the country is positioned currently.
The GTP phase one (GTP-I) is aimed at creating enabling environment for industry and manufacturing sectors to take the lead by replacing agriculture led industry policy into industry led to fairly meet its target.
The 2011-2015 five year national plan, GTP-I, was extensively discussed by the government and people of Ethiopia regarding its benefit and the means to execute it. The plan set an annual economic growth of at least 11 percent has made the economy to grow at 10.1 percent which is high by the standard of World Bank (WB) 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 percent in 2005 has gone down to reach 29 percent 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 percent by now. Interestingly, government’s commitment and the right policies together have reduced the poverty from 56 percent to 22 percent 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, thereby witnessing a healthy economic growth. What is more interesting is that the share of agriculture sector to the total economy reduced to 45 percent in 2011 which was close to 80 to 90 percent before ten years. The figure is expected to reach 40 percent by now. The agriculture, service , industry and manufacturing sectors grew 6.6, 10.7, 20, 13 percents respectively which collectively show that the country is in the right place to maintain its health economic growth.
The plan incorporated into the GTP-I was to raise the export so that Ethiopia can get relief of foreign currency reserve. Accordingly, much planned 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. However, the export gain cannot still cover the capital for importing goods. What is more promising is that the gap is getting narrow.
The second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II) 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-I period and other new strategies, the Plan is responsible to make poverty history. The change is expected to 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 percent and ultimately pushing the entire share all the way up to 40 percent by 2025.
The country is close to reach into the status of middle income countries over the coming five years. The social livelihood can be a witness that the economy has brought miracleous 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 makes 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 its own capacity. Also, the country is reportedly said to have increased its foreign currency from ever increasing tourists. For example, it is planned that two million tourists will visit over the next few years where it can gain billions of dollars.
Ethiopia is the largest peacekeeping force producing country and refugee hosting nation in the continent. As a result, it is called as peace stabilizer of the whole region.
The country started to reach where it is now from scratch. In the last 20 years, impressive economic and political gains were achieved which laid foundation to collectively beat poverty and alter the bad image of the country. The political stability, sound policies and commitment of the government and the people at large make Ethiopia to be headlines of the international Media.
It is now mentioned everywhere and anytime regarding its successful peace keeping mission, economic growth and its healthy engagement to stabilize and integrate economically across the region. For example, the financial times recently came up with astonishing story that Ethiopia achieved to be in 63rd from 109 countries 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 unrest, external political instability are intact. If the government does not take harsh measures against corrupt officials and anti peace elements, the ambitious plans set to completely transform the country could be delayed if not obscured. Therefore, the choice is between going back and forward if measures are not taken against rampant corruption, anti peace elements and the likes.
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