Investing on infrastructural facilities economic growth

 

By Mekonen Teshome 01/10/09

The development of infrastructure in a nation is crucial to speed up the overall economic growth. Cognizant of this fact, the Ethiopian government in its development endeavors has given primary attention to the expansion of infrastructures.

As a result, there is a remarkable achievement so far in the country in the development of infrastructures. This piece of writing, therefore, highlights some of the efforts being exerted by the Ethiopian government and the results achieved so far in expanding infrastructure development. Road, telecommunication, power and water are some among the many that have been given serious attentions. 

 

     Road Development:- The Ethiopian government has designed suitable policies, strategies and programs and has been implementing them so as to ensure sustainable economic development. Such development efforts depend on the development of the transport sector in general and road sub-sector in particular. According to official sources, considerable progress has been achieved in developing roads; accessibility has been improved and the percentage of roads in good condition has also increased.

 

 At the same time, substantial progress has been made in institutional capacity building, and expansion of the road network. The total road network has reached more than 42,429 km in 2007 which was very minimal some ten years back. Moreover, the indicators of average distance and time has been improved indicating the positive impact that the present Road Sector Development Program (RSDP) has brought about. Generally, it is believed that the five-year plan can be fully met if the present trend has continued in the same pace. In fact, there is need for vevery stakeholder to contribute its share towards the realization of the plan. The RSDP is mainly executed by the Ethiopian Road Authority (ERA), Regional Roads Authorities and Wereda Road Desks. It is believed that this structure would enable to construct roads fulfilling international standards which could safeguard the investment in a sustainable manner.

 

  Telecommunications:-The use of communications is very crucial to speed up development efforts in a country. Therefore, the advancement of information technology is considered as a catalytic element of growth.  Telecommunication is stipulated in the country’s policies and strategies framework as the backbone infrastructure development, under the major auspices of Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC).

 

 Inline with the economic policy of the government, ETC has been undertaking a universal service program, which has aimed at providing basic telecom services to rural kebeles. Recognizing the increasing demands for a modern telecommunication services, ETC has designed a strategic plan and has been making tremendous efforts to meet its vision, which underlines on bringing about telephone connectivity to the wider public both in urban and rural areas.  The number of subscribers in regular fixed telephone lines, mobile phones and internet lines has alarmingly increased in the year under review. The number of fixed telephone subscribers of residential, business, governmental and non-governmental organizations reached 890,741 rising the percentage of the population with access to telecommunication with in five km radius to 49.3% in 2006/07 from 13% in 2004/05. The country’s tele-density for fixed line or number of telephone subscribers per 100 inhabitants has also increased from 0.99 in 2005/06 to 1.20 in 2006/07. Other services such as roaming, satellite mobile and voice mail services are also being improved. Moreover, the number of internet line users grew by 22% from 2005/06 to2006/07 bringing the total number to 31,400 in 2006/07. Besides, ETC is providing national and international telecommunication services using communication such as media of satellite, optical fiber, microwave, multi-access radios and the like. As far as growth of public stations is concerned, the opening of 32 new stations brings up the total number of telephone stations to 936 in 2006/07 from 904 in 2005/06.  Recently, internet and related information technologies have increased the importance of ICT as a sector in its own right, driving economic growth and transforming social and economic activities.

 

 Accordingly, ICT plays a central role in facilitating fighting poverty, creating jobs, promoting new business opportunities, providing tools for modernizing education, and improving the governance and service delivery. Therefore, the Ethiopian government has attached high priority to information and communication technology (ICT) having recognized its role in promoting growth and reducing poverty.

 

 Power:- The development of energy is crucial for the overall socio-economic development. Considering the strong positive correlation between power and economic development, the power sector has been given the attention it deserves to use it effectively in the poverty reduction program that the country embarked on. The Ministry of Mines and Energy has executed various activities in this sector aimed at contributing to the sustainable economic development and poverty eradication.

 

 The constructions of five major hydro-electric power stations with a total capacity of nearly 3,000 MW and a number of groundwork for others are being carried out so as to satisfy the ever- growing energy demand of the country and to export the surplus to neighboring countries so that the foreign exchange earnings of the country could be enhanced. Utmost efforts are being made so that projects come on stream according to the plan. In the meantime, a total of 3,386.71 GWH of electricity is being generated from the ICS (3,331.71 GWH) and SCS (55Gwh) exceeding the plan by about 10%.

 

 Water Supply:-  The availability of safe and adequate water supply for the population has a direct effect on health, productivity, quality of life, and at large to reduce poverty and ensure sustainable socio-economic development. Hence, the Ethiopian government, NGOs, the community and the private sector have undertaken maximum efforts to improve the low level of water supply and sanitation problems of the country. Various studies on ground water and design works were also carried out in 2,480 sites in all regions of the country. Besides, revision of design works for 233 rural water supply spots have been undertaken since 2007.

 

  The development of deep and shallow boreholes wells and springs as well as multi-village rural water supply systems have been constructed in various part of the country. Maintenance and rehabilitation works on rural water supply schemes are also underway in all the states. In 2006/07 fiscal year, 2,044 rural water supply schemes have been rehabilitated and maintained. Moreover, 4,298 different maintenance works and replacement of spare parts of rural water supply schemes have been carried out. The percentage of broken water supply facilities declined to 20% by the end of 2006.  Sources indicate that access to water supply in urban areas is better than that of rural areas. However, urban water supply systems have faced difficulties owing to their long overdue design period, low expected output, population pressure, inadequate distribution system and high leakages, as well as low investment and implementation capacity. Nonetheless, the regional water development bureaus and the Ministry of Water Resources have taken measures to mitigate the problems and improve the water supply situations in urban areas. Feasibility study and design of 10 medium and large scale irrigation development projects that can develop up to 403,250 hectares of land have also been carried out since 2006. Out of these, nine projects are being carried out by the Ministry of Water Resources and the remaining are being implemented by the Oromiya Irrigation Authority. Shortage of skilled manpower, experienced and well equipped national consultants and contractors and lack of heavy duty machineries and very high cost of raw materials are some of the challenges in this sector.

 

   Other problems such as prolonged process in loan and grant program implementation, delay in financial and procurement processes, lack of experiences in project management under developed infrastructural facilities and insufficient investments in water supply and sanitation development programs have also serious impact on water development sector.   The procurement of necessary machineries and equipment are being carried out at federal, regional and woreda levels to curb some of the problems. In addition, measures are being taken to strengthen the water committees and water boards for sustainable water services management systems.

 

   In general, the effective infrastructure development in Ethiopia has contributed significantly for the overall economic growth in the country. The livelihood of the people is also improving due to the expansion of road, telecommunications, power and water facilities. All concerned bodies, therefore, need to make relentless efforts to further realize the country’s development through expediting the expansion of infrastructure in the country.