(Marta Adera 03-16-16)
Ethiopia's economy has maintained its extraordinary expansion with an average gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 10.9% for more than decade. That rate is almost double the 5.4% average for Sub-Saharan Africa. Undeniably, Ethiopia have come to be the seventh largest economy in Africa and the sixty-ninth largest economy in the world with a 118.2 billion USD GDP Purchasing Power Parity.
Indeed, the secret of this success the right policies outlined by the government and the ruling party, the hard working public servants, the clarity of vision and dedication. In this regard, the road sector is a showcase of the focus given to poverty reduction by ensuring the provision of basic services, expansion of infrastructures and increasing productivity at all levels.
The road sector is indeed the best demonstration of the prudence and commitment of the government as it is paying off by expediting the socio-economic progress. The government has made bigger emphasis on improvement of the quality and size of road infrastructure in the country, since the expansion of roads is vital for the economic development of Ethiopia. Indeed, there are major relationships between roads and economic growth. The impact of road access on the lives of the individuals and with regard to the overall economy is incalculable.
In light of the fact that road transport is the dominant mode of transportation in Ethiopia accounting for about 95% of passenger and freight movements, the road sector development plays an important role to the socio-economic development. Internationally, there are empirically-supported researches indicating that investment in the road sector helps poverty reduction. Affordable access and adequate mobility of people and goods, principal Road Investment outcomes, together with other socio-economic improvements, many believe, are essential to improving quality of life.
Since the 1990s, the government recognized the vital role of the road sector had set out a Road Sector Development Program (RSDP) to facilitate the upgrading and expansion of the road system.
The Road Sector Development Program was formulated with the aim of improving transport operating efficiency and reducing road transport costs, to provide access to rural, other neglected and food deficit areas and to develop institutional capacity of the road sub-sector.
In short, the need to expand the road network was acknowledged, while at the same time resources have been allotted towards improving the quality of roads.
Under the the first Road Sector Development Program, bbetween 1997 and 2002, a total of 8709 km of roads were renewed and constructed. In terms of federal roads, 975 km of trunk roads were rehabilitated, 549 km of trunk and link roads were upgraded and 928 km of new link roads were constructed. Alongside, a total of 257 km of maintenance work was carried out on federal paved and gravel roads.
By 2002, the road network of the country increased to 33,297 km in 2002 from 26550 km in to 1997. Therefore, Road density per 1000 sq. km increased to 30.3 km in 2002 from 24.1 km in to 1997. The share of the road network in good order improved to 30 % in 2002 from 22% in 1997.
Under the second Road Sector Development Program, between 2002 and 2007, a total of 12,006 km of roads were constructed and improved. In terms of federal roads, 970 km of trunk roads were rehabilitated, 1,702 km of trunk and link roads were upgraded and 612 km of link roads were constructed during RSDP II. Alongside, a total of 4,199 km of maintenance work was carried out on federal paved and gravel roads.
By 2007, the road network of the country increased to 42,429 km in 2007 from 33,297 km in 2002. Therefore, Road density per 1000 sq. km increased to 38 km in 2007 from 30km in 2002. The share of the road network in good order improved to 49 % in 2007 from 30% in 2002.
Under the third Road Sector Development, between 2007 and 2010, a total of 19,250 km of roads were improved and constructed. In terms of federal roads, 344 km of trunk roads were rehabilitated, 2,723 km of trunk and link roads upgraded and 1603 km of link roads were constructed.
By 2010, the road network of the country increased to 48,793 km in 2010 from 42,429 km in 2007. Therefore, Road density per 1000 sq. km increased to 44.4 km in 2010 from 38.6km in 2007. The share of the road network in good order improved to 56 % in 2010 from 49% in 2007.
Under the fourth Road Sector Development, between 2010 and 2014, a total of 70,197 km of roads were improved and maintained. In terms of federal roads, 439 km of trunk roads were rehabilitated, 3631 km of trunk and link roads were upgraded and 3,184 km of new link roads were constructed. Alongside, a total of 3714 km of maintenance work was carried out on federal paved and gravel roads.
By 2014, the road network of the country increased to 99,522 km in 2014 from 48,793 km in 2010. Therefore, Road density per 1000 sq. km increased to 90.5 km in 2014 from 44.4 km in 2010. The share of the road network in good order improved to 70 % in 2014 from 56% in 2010.
Indeed, an extraordinary significant improvement was registered in the restoration and expansion of Ethiopia’s roads in the last two decades.
Substantial progress has been made in in terms of accessibility; that is, the average distance from the road network and proportion of area farther than 5 km from an all-weather road, shows that. The average distance from a road has been reduced from 21km in 1997 to 5.5 km in 2014. At the same time, the proportion of area farther than five km from an all-weather road, which was 79% in 1997, has been reduced to 40.5% in 2014.
The achievements are captured through several measurement tools. For example, the Rural Access Index measures calculates the number of rural people who live within two kilometers of an all-season road as a proportion of the total rural population. In that regard, the average RAI for Ethiopia is currently around 50%, a significant improvement when compared to 13% in 1997.
Indeed, Ethiopia's investment in roads is paying off expediting the fight against poverty.