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#Blog4Dev: Citizens contribute ideas to shape Ethiopia’s future

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ImageDespite a challenging global economic climate, Ethiopia has managed to pull off one of the most remarkable growth narratives of the past decade. Real gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaged 10.9% between 2004 and 2015, but the growth slowed down to 8.0% in FY2016 on account of El-Nino-driven drought that affected agricultural production and its spillover effect on industry and service sector.  In general, the growth exceeds  that of many Sub-Saharan African and other low-income countries. The positive growth and related poverty reduction has put Ethiopia on the right trajectory to reach middle income status by 2025.

Although many believe that the country only needs to maintain the current pace of growth to attain its long-awaited middle-income status and ensure sustainable transformation of its economy, things are not so simple. For starters, sustaining a strong GDP per capita growth in no way ensures the inclusiveness of the growth, let alone structural transformation of the economy. Perhaps this is the oldest insight in the economic discipline; GDP per capita being a poor measure for gauging shared prosperity in a growing economy.

So the million dollar question is how can Ethiopia’s stride be both inclusive and sustainable? How can Ethiopia become a middle income country without leaving anyone behind?

Well, the following three ideas are as good as any other:

  • Ethiopia needs to work on its democratic culture both at national and family levels if it is to attain a middle income status without leaving any one behind;
  • If policymakers are determined not to leave any one behind, they need to address the overall literacy level in the country, awaken the entrepreneurship spirit in the youth and women, and reduce the regional imbalance in growth;
  • The key to uplifting everyone to middle income level by 2025 is liberalization; since a thriving private sector is the only option to create enough jobs in a populous country like Ethiopia.
These three ideas came from Tesfagebriel Tekola, Rediet Firdu and Olansis Mulugeta, university students who came in first, second and third place in the recent the World Bank Ethiopia #Blog4Dev competition. The contest, launched in July 2016, aimed to draw out ideas about Ethiopia’s current development challenges and possible remedies from citizens of all walks of life.

It worked; we received hundreds of entries, each one with a unique take on the challenges and opportunities the country is facing at this time. Each entry, winning or not, will contribute to WBG’s Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for Ethiopia, which is currently under preparation.

The winning entries will be posted on this blog in the coming weeks, so check back to find out why Tesfagebriel, a 23-year-old post-graduate journalism student, believes that strengthening democratic institutions and giving a voice to voiceless are the most important challenges facing Ethiopia today. Read about Mulugeta’s perspective on free enterprise, why he believes in increasing the role of the private sector in the economy. And read Rediet’s blog post full of ideas, including putting the right amount of thought into Ethiopia’s schooling system and traditions, and reducing regional imbalances by creating jobs and involving as many citizens as possible in the development activities.

While each of the winners and entries highlight different ideas, the real winner is Ethiopia, as we know that engaging its citizens in discussions about development is the right step forward to achieve middle income status without leaving any one behind.

Read more from the Ethiopia Blog4Dev series:



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