Tigrai Online Dec. 10, 2012
It was only four months ago that Ethiopians lost their great leader, Meles Zenawi. The architect of Ethiopian Renaissance and the mastermind of the decade long economic stride. As the great leader was laid to rest with great sorrow and honour, Ethiopians promised to realize his vision by achieving a middle-income status.
Ethiopia has been working to reach the middle-income status in 20 to 30 years for the last decade. Under a committed leadership and well-crafted policies of a developmental state, a double-digit annual GDP growth has been registered since 2003 under the PASDEP and a preceding poverty reduction plan.
But In 2010, when the peoples showed their approval of the progress made thus far and their endorsement of the developmental state direction through ballot box, the government and the ruling party decided to scale-up the developmental efforts and targets to match the public's hopes and aspirations.
In the week after the election, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi publicly promised to come up with an improvised plan that expedites the Ethiopian Renaissance. A few months later an outline of a breath-taking Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) was presented for public consultations. Ethiopians across the country discussed and provided inputs, which were assembled at the centre and further reviewed by experts. Shortly after that, the government unveiled a fully-worked out 5-years GTP document as a medium term national development framework.
The GTP with almost a Trillion Birr budget and spending more than 60 percent of that on poverty oriented sectors, such as agriculture, education, health care, water and road development, "is directed towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Ethiopia's long term vision and sustaining rapid, broad based and equitable economic growth anchored on the experiences that have been drawn from implementing pro-poor and pro-growth development policies and strategies undertaken since 1994".
The plan aims at four main objectives: (1) maintain at least an average real GDP growth rate of 11.2 percent and attain MDGs (2) expand and ensure the qualities of education and health services and achieve MDGs in the social sector (3) establish suitable conditions for sustainable nation building through the creation of a stable democratic and developmental state; and (4) ensure the sustainability of growth by realizing all the above objectives within a stable macroeconomic framework.
The plan was met by doubt and scepticism in the media and some part of the elite. But the government was determined. It even made it clear that Ethiopia will maintain at least the 11.2% growth until 2025 and join the rank of middle-income countries.
That will mean a significant shift towards industrialization. As projections show, by 2025, the share the agriculture sector would be only 29% of the economy, while industry and service would take 32% and 39% respectively.
As the GTP mostly consist massive plans of expansion and scaling-up as well as mega projects, many expected the first two years may not see much more than preparatory works, securing finance and other first-phase works.
But the outcome on the ground was the opposite. Even some foreign financers, who previously expressed their scepticism public, are now pledging to provide the largest amount of fund they ever gave to Ethiopia. Because, most of the targets of the GTP and the MDGs are on track and even ahead of target in some sectors.
The production of major crops, which stood at 193 million quintals, is projected to reach 225 million quintals this year and on track to 260 million quintal by 2015. This doesn't include root crops, fruits and vegetables, spices and the like.
The increase in production and productivity of the agriculture sector is expected to continue at even faster rate, given the surge in the coverage of agricultural extension services, which benefitted 14.3 million farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoralists in the last year.
The industrial sector continued its stride with about 15% growth rate in the past two years.
The performance in terms of job creation is well ahead of the target for each year. About 700,000 jobs were created through micro and small enterprises (MSEs) and housing projects in the first year of the GTP, while more than 1.1 million jobs were generated in the year 2011/2012. It is projected about 1.7 million jobs will be created this year, among which 50% allotted for women. 343,000 graduates of Higher education’s and technical and vocational institutions are planned to benefit from the new job opportunities.
In relation to that Urban and Construction Ministry set 3.6 bln birr loan will be provided for 128,000 existing and 812,00 new (MSEs) this year. It also planned, for the current fiscal year 2012/2013, to create a 5 billion birr domestic market linkage for MSEs and 23 bln dollar to be generated by linking them with foreign markets.
The progress in mega projects is in line with the schedules laid out in the Plan. The progress on the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) has now reached 14%, while construction of the Gibe III dam is over 60% complete.
The installation of modern telecommunication links with landlines and broadband services had continued and the number of mobile phone users now exceeded 18 million, while the number of internet subscribers reached 2.5 million. Nearly 90% of villages are connected to telecom service and in fiber optic laying more than 10,000 kms are on the ground linking to the international routes.
The expansion of ICT infrastructures and services to schools and woredas is well underway. The School Net program integrated 952 schools to the national system enabling for video broadcasting and internet services. The Woreda Net program similarly connected 630 Woredas paving the way to build a transparent and accountable system and increase public participation.
Another key infrastructure, the road development is progressing on schedule with the construction of 70,000 kilometres of road at a cost of some 20 billion birr. Though the government was covering some 90 percent of the cost from its own resources, the recently pledged 8 bln birr loan from World bank ensures the road development will meet the targets set in the GTP by 2015.
The target to build more than 2600 kilometres is expected to succeed by 2015. The detailed design works of most of the routes are already complete and advanced training of thousands of necessary professionals is well underway in higher institutions sponsored by the Ethiopian Railway Corporation. There are promising developments, including signing MoUs and contracts, for the financing of these with loans from India, Turkey and China to finance railway projects. The new Addis Ababa -Djibouti railway project had been commenced last June.
In education sector, Ethiopia has reached nearly 95% primary level educational attainments with 20 million students in schools. At the tertiary level, thirty one universities staffed with 23,000 thousand instructors are serving half a million university students, while another 370,000 youth are attending technical and vocational education.
Of course, the data above is simply to give you a brief glance based on what I could collect from the media, mostly a few months old. The progress made so far in terms of all the 7 pillars of the GTP and their wide-ranging significance for the country cannot be sufficiently presented in a short article like this one.
As President Girma Woldegiorgis said in October in the opening session of the parliament, “Ethiopia is undoubtedly moving on the right path towards rapid and sustainable development. The effect of Ethiopia's progress is also “beginning to have a trans-boundary impact [and] many continue to express their hope to see Ethiopia maintain and continue on the right path of development in a post-Meles era”.
Now, the first-half of the GTP is fast approaching and as PM Hailemariam said last October "the performance of the economy showed the country was on the right track to achieve the growth envisaged in the GTP". Again, as he noted recently, the months since Prime Minister Meles Zenawi death proved the institutional strength of the developmental state and the ruling party.
But the Prime Minister is not planning to take a break and celebrate.
He and his party have long acknowledged sustained development is a matter of survival for the country. Moreover, the party has to honor the sacrifice of its great leader and the strong message the public sent during the national mourning, as the Executive Committee pledged at the time “to translate the remorse and trust of the public into real participation in the development".
In fact the EPRDF Council meeting in which Hailemariam was elected publicly renewed its "promise to strive with superior drive to bring to the target the stride of renaissance" and underlined that the need to channel the broad public movement created in the mourning for the late PM to accomplish the Growth and Transformation Plan.
Thanx to the great leader and the works done so far, the strategies and directions for the plan are fully in place and the major task ahead was now their successful implementation, as PM Hailemariam remarked last week.
However, as successful implementation requires a thorough review of the progress so far, one of the current major tasks of Hailemariam and his colleagues has been a mid-term review of the party's performance and public mobilization in the GTP.
Besides to that, to compensate the loss of Meles Zenawi and based on a review of the two and half years performance and the works ahead, structural changes in the organization of the executive branch of government are deemed necessary for speedy implementation of the Growth and Transformation Plan.
Therefore, PM Hailemariam decided to organize higher level coordination of the GTP and related governmental works in a new way.
He decided to directly follow up the progress in Mega projects (dams, sugar development, etc.) activities in diplomacy, intelligence and military sectors.
The Premier also announced, in Parliament at the end of November, the executive is organized in three clusters and assigned three officials to coordinate each.
Dep. Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen, who delivered the breath-taking progress in the education sector for the last four years, is now to provide his direct leadership for the Social services cluster. In addition to his responsibilities as Dep. PM in general and as Minister of Education. Given his track record and the recently signed 10.6 Bln Birr loan from World bank for Social services (Education, Health, water and the like), we can be assured that the GTP targets in this sector will be met by 201.
The Good Governance and Reform cluster is to be coordinated by Muktar Kedir, with Dep. PM portfolio. Muktar's administrative skill was repeatedly demonstrated in all his undertakings in the last decade and recently as Deputy Chair of OPDO, Head of the PM's Office and EPRDF Secretariat.
Debretsion Gebremichael, with Dep. PM portfolio, is assigned to the Economic and Finance cluster. He is expected to replicate across the public enterprises the same strong performance he showed in ICT expansion and the exponential growth of telecom service.
With these new clusters and the existing federal and regional executive organs as well as EPRDF structures in place, PM hailemariam is now ready to embark on the second phase of the GTP.