A special report on Newsweek
In times of economic uncertainty, nations tend to focus on domestic concerns and lose sight of issues of global importance. This March, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, called on the world not to forget his country as it faces its worst drought in 50 years, which has put more than 10 million people at risk of famine and could erode the remarkable achievements Ethiopia has made in the last quarter of a century.
Compared to many of its African peers, Ethiopia is a beacon of political stability, economic growth, and social advancement. In 2014, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) chose it as one of two nations on the continent, and just three worldwide, for its pilot Programme for Country Partnership, in recognition of its commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth.
Under the leadership of Meles Zenawi and, since 2012, Prime Minister Desalegn, Ethiopia has been one of the world’s fastest growing economies over the past decade and secured significant human development gains. According to the World Bank, it boasts ‘strong, broad-based growth’, expanding by a mean annual 10.8% from 2004-2014, more than twice the regional average.
Agriculture accounts for the lion’s share of Ethiopia’s GDP and exports, and employs three in four locals. Now, in line with the government’s second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP2), the sector will provide the means for Ethiopia to transition to a new, value-added economic model, based on building its agro-industrial and manufacturing sectors at home to maximise export earnings and boost investment from beyond its borders.
Home to around 100 million, Ethiopia has slashed poverty levels from 39% in 2004 to be on target for 22.2% by the end of last year. It has also made major strides towards its Millennium Development Goals, reducing child mortality, rolling out primary education, doubling access to drinking water in just five years, and extending its Productive Safety Net Program to cover eight million vulnerable citizens.