Alemnesh Tesfaye is a middle-aged woman living in Gulele sub-city of Addis Ababa with her husband and three children. She has wrinkled face clawed with aging process, may be due to the repercussion of hard work mellowed by insurmountable spirit. She said putting enough food on the table to the whole family and paying school fees to children was cumbersome and worrisome to her and her husband who are were engaged in drudgery and donkey work.
She was used to earn her living from sale of fire wood, collected from wind-fallen leaves and dry boughs of Entoto forest, adjoining the road traversing from Addis Ababa to Gonder, Gojam.
According to her, her husband, Ato Zinaw was also a laborer whose meager income could not cast out the specter of hunger hovering on empty plates awaiting the whole family back at home, after along and grueling day’s work.
She remembered the epiphany came when she and her friends get organized and obtain a loan of 50,000 Birr to start petty business activity. The seed-money helped them launch home economics and sell of eatables sufficient enough to cover her monthly expenses.
Beside Alemnesh, her husband has also managed to obtain his livelihood from cobble stone road construction and support his family. He said the water shed moment comes to their family when the city administration summoned them and heralded about potential income generation activities including cobble stone road construction.
The way countries interpret development is different according to their existing situation. Some say, though it enabled to register amazing results in their country, the liberal ideology of the western world could not be fit to the existing economic situation of Africa. If it was designed to transform the economy of Africa, the liberal ideology of the western world could have brought successful results in as it has been implemented in Africa since its inception. Unfortunately, the current reality in Africa is far different from this.
Indeed, it has been witnessed that the way tailored by liberal western economists could not bring profound changes to the economies of African countries, except heaping up billions of dollars of debt and widening imbalance between the import and export activities, which relays on export of agricultural produce and import of industrial produce.
Numerous reasons are being forwarded to the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of African economic development while implementing liberal polices strait-jacketed by westerners. For one thing, Africa’s democracy is at its budding stage, which in turn could not spur Anglo-American type of development.
In the contrary, the right track of development being followed by the government has enabled to achieve record development commended by the international community. To effect more development, nation has favored to imitate best experiences from Korea and Taiwan that have managed to build strong economy starting from a scratch. Their history showed that both countries are not endowed with ample natural resources and their only sources of growth have been proper use of trained human power( and Ethiopia wants to travel same way and repeat their success.
Years ago, before they gain miraculous economic success, the economic development level of Taiwan and Korea was similar with the current situation of African countries. Accordingly, the style of development they followed and the means used to achieve their success have made them a beacon of development and inspiration for many African countries including Ethiopia. Especially, Ethiopia has imitated their model of development which has started to produce tangible fruits.
Both countries have registered fast-track development within 30 years, eradicate abominable poverty and enabled their people to enjoy higher income and decent living condition(government interventions in Taiwan and Korea in some selected areas of economic activity has enabled to speed up economic growth and benefit people).
Despite imitating Taiwanese and Korean best experiences of development, the actual situation of Ethiopia is different from both countries, and it has been a must to adopt, adapt and implement (workable) suitable policies and strategies that can effect vying development in the near future as the country is striving to achieve middle-income level of development until 2025.
Accordingly, imbibing best experiences from the countries mentioned a fore and adopting it with the real development need of Ethiopia has enabled to register double-digit economic growth that has stunned the entire world.
When it comes to Ethiopia, the development trend opted by the country and the current development situation is amazing when viewed from other countries that are implementing western-style development, which indeed has forced the development of Africa to lag behind since 1960s and 1970s. As a testimony, most of the African countries have been made to be glued to supply of raw materials to the developed world and no trend of industrialization since then.
The changes that have taken place in Ethiopia since the advent of EPRDF are commendable. There is consensus that Ethiopia has registered ground-breaking economic growth in the past decade. The growth amounts to at least initial double-digit. The reason for the country’s progress is its growing resilience and resistance to drought with time, through a mechanism of boosting agricultural productivity and implementation of safety net programs to farmers who cannot stand by themselves (a greater capacity to cope with drought and prevention of descent into famine conditions that have occurred in the past).
The self-styled development trend of Ethiopia has managed to defy the influence of western institutions, like IMF and WB (and western countries themselves) and put in place strong democratic state based on the consent of its people. This has enabled the country to establish lasting peace that enabled to register double-digit economic growth.
Nevertheless, the dazzling development in Ethiopia has forced the above mentioned recalcitrant institutions to admit the current situation. For instance, Earlier the World Bank Group Poverty Assessment says poverty level in Ethiopia has decreased from 44% in 2000 to 33% in 2011. This is the result of the tremendous effort exerted in the agriculture sector, investments, services as safety net programs.
This poverty reduction in people's living conditions, according to the report, was accompanied by "high and consistent economic growth." It underlined that agriculture was at the heart of the success in reducing poverty in the country, commending the policies and strategies employed by the Government.
It has enabled Ethiopia to witness steady reduction in poverty levels of 4% percent a year since 2005. The report said "high food prices and good weather ensured that increased use of fertilizer was translated into higher incomes for poor farmers with access to markets." It also added that the investments made in basic services and in the effective rural safety net had paid off in supporting the least well-off in Ethiopia, pointing out that "the Productive Safety Net Program alone has helped 1.5 million people extricate themselves out of poverty."
WB country Director for Ethiopia, noted that "although Ethiopia started from a low base, its investment in pro-poor sectors and agriculture has paid-off and led to tremendous achievements in economic growth and poverty reduction, which in turn have helped improve the economic prospects of its citizens."
Accordingly, Ethiopia's steps in annual poverty reduction had been "impressive," including the overall improvement of social services, including health, education, and living standards "with undernourishment down from 75 percent to 35 percent since 1990 and infant and child mortality rates falling considerably since 2000."
And it dubbed Ethiopia as "one of the most equal countries in the world, and has remained so during this period of economic development and poverty reduction." It noted that the country had challenges, with "37 million Ethiopians remain either poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty in the wake of a shock."
Ana Revenga, Senior Director for Poverty at the WB said that "Ethiopia is often unfairly seen as emblematic of poverty and deprivation--but the progress it has seen over the past decade should help change that," adding that "if this progress continues over the next decade, Ethiopia can propel itself and most importantly, its people into a new era of prosperity."
The report also noted that "while Ethiopia should continue focusing on agricultural growth and investments in basic services, the potential of migration and non-agricultural growth has been largely missed." It stressed the need to enhance the involvement and growth of firms and households to "overcome constraints to urban migration could also further help Ethiopia to reduce poverty and promote prosperity for all of is people."
Ethiopia implemented workable policies and strategies designed to address agriculture and rural development. Building on the impressive gains of the preceding decade, the five year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) established ambitious targets for the agriculture sector for 2011-2015.
Nation has focused on enhancing productivity and production of smallholder farmers and pastoralists, strengthening market systems, improving participation and engagement of the private sector, expanding the amount of land under irrigation, and reducing the number of chronically food insecure households.
The mesmerizing economic transformation being observed in Ethiopia has been effected by the prevalence of relative peace and stability for over the past two decades, which in turn has burgeoned Ethiopia’s regional diplomatic influence. This has been buttressed by nation’s allocation of more than 60% of the national budget to sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, education and health, that favor poorer people(due to formulation and implementation of pro-poor policies and strategies, unlike Derg that used to spend most of the content of national coffers on the purchase of armaments).
To date Ethiopia has managed to harvest close to 300 million quintals of produce which is far incomparable to 50 million quintals of produce that was collected two decades ago, which is unseen in the history of Ethiopia. Government strongly believes that the image of the country will be boosted when Ethiopia halts receiving wheat aid, being reliant on its productivity.
Farmers have started to produce cash crops and exportable produce. They have also started to undertake huge environmental conservation activities that are helping rehabilitate degraded ecology and support revival of dried rivers and streams.
Currently, dependency of farmers on rain fall is declining. Accordingly, farmers have started to divert rivers to irrigate their farm land and produce vegetable and crops three times a year.
This productivity has helped to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to towns and burgeon the income of farmers. This activity is showcasing that indeed the rebirth of the country has been started to be realized in the rural areas.
The development in the agricultural sector is expected to further improve productivity through mobilizing resources. The determination to such an action clearly indicates real commitment from the part of the government to ensure food security in the country.
It is expected to play a crucial role in ensuring food security and improving the socio-economic activities of the country at large. The government is doing its level best to support farmers which at the same time calls for their active participation. More importantly, model farmers who have been exemplary to their fellow farmers in the effort to change their lives has been awarded and honored by the government.
These days nation is dubbed as the African tiger’ leaping towards middle income level in a fast stride. This breakthrough achievement recorded against poverty is indeed very much contravening with its previous image tarnished by famine and poverty.
In sharp contrast with the previous grinding poverty, Ethiopia is now widely considered to be one of the African leading economies, It has so far formulated and started to implement ambitious plans to become a middle-income country by 2025. Ethiopia has, like the proverbial phoenix, managed to rise from the ashes to become Africa’s fastest-growing non-energy-driven economy”, a senior tax adviser at KPMG Kenya noted.
The development of the country has enabled to lift millions of people out of the mire of grinding poverty. The development being recorded has become multi-pronged that covers range of activities, be it agriculture, construction of infrastructure or social services like education, health and tourism.
This development endeavor is also praised internationally for meeting some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly boosting universal accessibility of primary school education and expansion of health facilities and services. Especially, sizable reduction has been seen in the number of infant and maternal mortality. This big achievement has won plaudits at home and abroad.
The country is exerting utmost effort to fully implement its health policy that has enshrined prevention as its core issue and further curtail death of infants and mothers by assigning health assistants at a village level and building health stations in every corner.
Implementing the principles of safe motherhood is one of the strategies that enables to reduce the high maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates in Ethiopia. The safe motherhood principle is boosting health and economic advantages.
Ethiopia has also developed a national insurance health scheme that shares the financial investment in healthcare with the general population and allows individuals and families to pay for healthcare overtime and not just at point of service when resources may not be available.
The introduction of a health insurance scheme is expected to improve household health by reducing the financial pressure and risk when seeking health services. It is also believed that in the long run such a scheme is expected to strengthen the health sector, by improving overall quality of health service provision.
Changes are also visible in the areas of trade and investment as Ethiopia is becoming a popular destination for foreign investors including Turkish and Chinese. Currently, the country is attracting a lot of foreign direct investment (FDI) from more countries..
Following the boom in the economy, the county has managed to diversify export items. Currently, Ethiopia has become a major shipper of cut flowers, oil seeds, gold and, increasingly, textiles and leather products. The government has also urged and incentivized investors to produce value-added goods at home and export it. This initiation has enabled to add some value in the production line of shoe production, textile processing, floriculture and manufacturing activities in general, which in turn helps enhance foreign currency earning capacity of the country far better than the previous.
Similarly, Ethiopia’s foreign policy is the reflection of our domestic, peace, security, good governance and democracy. This in turn has helped Ethiopia to alleviate poverty at home and win and recognition in the arena of international diplomacy. Similarly, national diplomacy, which is based on economic diplomacy, has enabled Ethiopia to contribute its own effort being exerted to ensure peace and security in the east Africa region as a whole.
The relative peace prevailing in the country has also enhanced the capacity of the country to contribute its own to the peace-keeping mission being conducted in Africa in general and the Horn of Africa in particular( the newly born Sudan and Somalia).
Ethiopia is the second home of refugees in the horn of Africa. Currently, it has become the single most country below Sahara that has received the highest number of refugees. This generosity and hospitality has won appraisal from the UNHCR. Until to date close to 700,000 refugees have made their way to Ethiopia from South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.
In this regard, Lately Irish President have said that Ethiopia should be lauded for hosting refugees from neighboring countries. This granting of asylum to refugees is really contravening with the situation of the country two decades ago (it was in quandary affected by protracted war and famine).
Besides, Ethiopian defense force has also won admiration as a result of its capability to carry out its duty even in challenging situations. Namely, the army has accomplished its mission successfully in Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Liberia, Darfur and Abiye region of Sudan. The army has been carrying out infrastructure construction in these countries parallel to its mission and it was thanked by people in these countries. Indeed the reflection of strong government and people that backs the activities of the army as a vanguard.
Nation should continue focusing on agricultural growth and investments in basic services. Alongside ongoing efforts should be made to support self-employment, encourage the entry and growth of firms and help households overcome constraints to urban migration.
It is still critical to address multiple challenges facing the sector where ensuring the food security at the national level is its top priority. Strengthening the agricultural sector is imperative to fully tap the much need benefits from the sector. Productivity enhancement alone will achieve food security, but will not necessarily enable the rural poor to escape poverty.
To alleviate poverty, rural households have to graduate from purely subsistence farming to practicing farming as a business. Diversification into higher value products will also be a key element of the commercialization process. Thus they farmers need sustainable technical support of the government as agriculture marks a very significant contribution to the national income, employment, agricultural production, and food demand of people in the country.
Nation is striding on vibrant development trajectory. This trend has enabled to effect sizable changes commended by the whole world. To keep on the momentum, the second phase Growth and Transformation Plan(GTP) is being discussed by the people and all stakeholders throughout the country. Having invaluable experience from the concluded GTP at hand, nation is expected to stride in leaps and bounds and register miraculous development more than ever.
The development effort in Ethiopia is leaving no stone unturned. Doubtlessly, this effort will continue to generate jobs through micro and small enterprises or government-inspired megaprojects and eradicate poverty and extricate millions of abject poor like Alemnesh.
Through tireless effort, Alemnesh has seen light at the end of the tunnel. She is a single and simple instance of millions of women benefiting from the development endeavor of the country. Indeed millions are queuing on the same line of progress.