Economy & Politics

ECONOMICS

Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies of the world (it grew 10% from 2004 to 2009) but it is still a developing country (174th of 188th in the HDI) with frequent inflation challenges and with one of the lowest GDPs of the world.

Agriculture constitutes 85% of the working force, mainly dedicated to coffee, legumes, oilseeds, sugarcane, cereals and vegetables, being coffee the largest foreign exchange earner, followed by cattle, “khat” (will talk about it later!), gold, leather and oilseeds.

Ethiopia has been building different dams, being now involved in the construction of the largest hydroelectric power station of the continent, expected to produce more than 6000 MW and using the water of the Ethiopian Blue Nile river for it, which has led to some conflict with other countries sharing the water, specially Egypt, as the Nile is their main source of water.

Recently Ethiopia has started the run to expand its industrial parks around the country, attracting foreign investors who find a better deal of what they would find in Asian countries (“Ethiopia has become the China’s China”, they say).

Chinese presence is so wide through construction of different infrastructures (dams, bridges, roads, buildings, railroad) and technology that some people consider them to be the biggest minority in Ethiopia! Hilarious!

POLITICS

Ethiopia has a federal parliamentary republic since communism was overthrown in 1991, being the Primer Minister the head of the government. The constitution dates back from 1994 and the current government has been run by the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRFD) since then.

Meles Zenawi was in power as prime minister from 1995 till his mysterious death abroad in 2012. He was replaced by the until then deputy minister Haile Mariam Desalegn, who resigned in February of 2018, recognizing failure to address the Oromo protests in the country. The country will witness the first-ever Oromo leading the country with Abi Ahmed sitting as the new prime minister swearing in on March 31st, 2018.

Since 1996, Ethiopia has been divided into nine ethnically-based and politically autonomous regional states and 2 chartered cities (Addis and Dire Dawa). Their area, capital cities and census are stated below:

The current political landscape in Ethiopia is complicated. The same party has been in power since democracy came to reality (and that’s why some people won’t call it democracy). There have been numerous protests and clashes between security forces and population with thousands of hurt and dead people along the years. Ethiopia declared its first State of Emergency in 2016, being suspended in August 2017. A year later, after the latest primer minister resigned, a new 6 months State of Emergency was declared again in February 2018. The election of Oromo politician Abi Ahmed seems to be a reasonable way to handle the crisis, but only time will tell if he is up to the task that he facing.

The main reason for controversy has been the historic demand of the Oromo people for more representation in politics, a demand that has been supported lately by the Amharas too, arguing human rights abuses, the release of political prisoners, a fairer redistribution of the wealth generated by over a decade of economic growth, and political representations of other groups rather than the leading Tigray minority.

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