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Transforming Ethiopia’s Developmental State Model for Future Dynamism: A BOOK SUMMARY

Tigrai Online Nov. 20, 2019

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In the book published by the Lambert Academic Publishing in October 2019, Professor Asayehgn Desta argues that in 2005, Ethiopia adopted and thrived by adjusting the East Asian State-Led Developmental state model to reflect its own historical conditions, enhance economic growth and wipe out poverty. After applying the developmental State Model from 2005 to 2015, Ethiopia remained a compelling example of how an African country can achieve steady, state-directed economic growth, social transformation, and infrastructural investments, by providing easy access to primary and preventative healthcare, reducing social inequality, and mobilizing peasant farmers.

However, Desta points out that due to administrative obsolescence, dysfunctional appointment of bureaucrats, political upheaval, ethnic strife, weak macroeconomic management, Ethiopia’s Developmental State Model has been breaking down. Currently, Ethiopia is on the verge of slipping backward into economic decline, facing poverty, inflation, unemployment, heavy external debt, and a rise in ethnic conflicts.  

If the recent wide-scale economic and political crisis is not addressed immediately, professor Desta highlights that Ethiopia’s legitimacy could be disrupted. Therefore, as other developmental states have done, Professor Desta’s book focuses on structural changes of the needs to form a hybrid paradigm, in which some developmental practices coexist with the surrender of powers to local authorities and the prevalence of privatization policies to harness a free market operation. In the revitalization of its Developmental State Model, Professor Desta’s book strongly suggests that Ethiopia needs to restructure its form of federalism and practice transparent democracy, with adequate checks and balances to empower local citizens.

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