Why Ethiopia is one of Africa’s best performing economies



Ethiopia’s incredible growth story


Ethiopia, Hailemariam DesalegnBy Richard Mammah


Remember Bob Geldof and the celebrity-decked Live Aid and Band Aid concerts to raise funds to save millions of starving people in Ethiopia in 1984? it was indeed a most shocking sight in which the world was confronted with very gory images of emaciated children and adults that were victims of the very terrible famine that struck the region within that period.

Well, that picture is now history even as the country which with an estimated 100million inhabitants ranks as Africa’s second most populous country, is presently being touted as one of the incredible growth stories in the continent.

Analysts say Ethiopia’s incredible growth story today is clearly the triumph of vision, hard work, common sense and commitment.  Indeed, a recent report by the United nations Economic Commission for Africa, UN-ECA forecasts that ‘considering all the positive signs, Ethiopia might very well be on its way to become Africa’s industrial powerhouse.’

The report which is on Transformative Industrial Policy for Africa, and was produced by Ha-Joon Chang, Jostein Løhr Hauge and Muhammad Irfan  outlines that the country ‘seems to be attracting the attention of economists interested in Africa, and for good reason. Except for Rwanda, Ethiopia is the only African country whose economic growth has been consistently high for more than a decade without relying on a natural resource boom.’

With its glistening boom story, the investors are pouring in. Africa’s richest man, the Nigerian, Aliko Dangote is one such entrant and he can be counted on to corroborate the UNECA finding. Proof of this is that he has himself already set up a massive cement plant in the country.

In a media parley in Lagos last year which The Difference featured in, he stated that one of the things that impressed him about investing in Ethiopia was their foresight, commitment to planning and infrastructural development.

The road to my plant which is many kilometres from the capital is almost literally literally without potholes. They have also guaranteed to supply stable and uninterrupted power for years. Ethiopia is serious and I am glad to do business there,’ the business mogul who is similarly building the largest petrochemical plant in Africa and the world enthused.

As any discerning economy watcher knows, a commitment to the provision of world-class infrastructure is a desssideratum for attracting investments to any country. In his book, From Third World to First World, the founding Prime Minister of modern Singapore eloquently outlined how much effort was taken by the South East Asian industrial and econmic powerhouse to attract investments.

Indeed in the Ethiopian case also, the initial prime driver of the current transformation story, late prime Minister, Meles Zenawi is indeed most indebted to Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore and the other similarly emergent economies of the South East Asian region. And it is to the credit of the nation that his successors have continued on the same trajectory.

To be continued

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