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Ethiopia strides forward with the GTP

Yemeserach Hune
Tigrai Onlne - January 10, 2014

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.

 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 suspected it couldn't be attained. 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 three 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.

In the second ear, about 1.7 million jobs had been created, among which 50% allotted for women. 343,000 graduates of Higher educations and technical and vocational institutions are planned to benefit from the new job opportunities.

The job creation continued at similar rate in the third year as well. Close to four million jobs were created across the country in total in the three years of the Growth & Transformation Plan period.

The performance exceeded the target by over a million. The success was attributed to the expansion of micro & small enterprises (SMEs) and a number of on-going huge projects.

 The Ministry of Urban Development & Construction (MoUDC) indicated that about one million of the jobs created during the reported period were temporary and it is striving to make the jobs sustainable.

Town administrations have been facilitating loan service, land for manufacturing and marketing, and technical and vocational trainings for micro and small enterprises. The government has decided construction of infrastructure facilities be labour intensive in a bid to create more jobs.

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 30%, while construction of the Gibe III dam is over 75% complete.

The installation of modern telecommunication links with landlines and broadband services had continued and the number of mobile phone users now exceeded 22 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 1000 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 86,000 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 8 bln birr loan of 2013 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 in June 2012.

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.

Track laying for the Addis Ababa Light Railway Transit project was officially commenced in the third year of the GTP putting an end to all the talks of those who have routinely been claiming that the project is a pipe dream.

The Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit project is an electrified light rail transit system with a total length of 34.25-kms (North-South line 16.9-kms and East-West line 17.35-kms).The two lines which are the North-South and East-West lines use common track of about 2.7-kms with a Standard Gauge of 1.435 meters and double track for the whole route.

Out of the total 32-kms main line of the phase one project, some 7.6-kms is covered with bridges which would be constructed in six locations. Once completed which would be 1 1/2 year, AA-LRT will have a capacity of transiting 80,000 passengers per hour.

One of the special features of the Project is that it performs on steep gradient and sharp curves and the fact that it is environmentally friendly as it reduces carbon dioxide emission. Trains with a capacity to carry around 300 people will start work in the first phase of the project completion. The Addis Ababa Light Railway Transit project, despite its significance, is not the only mega project launched to transform Ethiopia's economy and advance the social-economic stride.

The 756 kilometer-long electrification project, linking Addis Ababa to the Port of Doraleh in Djibouti, is another priority project of the GTP. The Ethiopian section of the project is now more than 25 percent complete; and Djibouti launched construction of the 100 kms line within its territory last month. With the China Railway Engineering Corporation building the 317km segment from Sebeta to Meiso, the 339km from Meiso to the border town of Dawale, and the third100kms to the port of Doraleh, more than a quarter of the work is completed while the rest is progressing as per plan. The Addis Ababa Djibouti line will have 17 major stations and pass through DebreZeit, Adama, Metehara and Dire Dawa.

Of which, the 107kms from Addis Ababa to Adama will be double track and the remaining 549 kms will be single track. It is now certain that the new Ethiopia - Djibouti Railway line will be finalized within the Growth and Transformation Plan period by 2015.

These project are part of the two-phased plan unveiled in 2010 to construct a 4,850long railway, with 8 main rail routes and expected to connect about 49 towns, under the purview of the newly established Ethiopian Railway Corporation.

A 656 km long rail route that stretches from Sebeta, near Addis Ababa, to Dewele, which is located near the border of Djibouti, is amongst them. Not to forget, the old 781 kms railway line from Dire Dawa to Djibouti that has been maintained and started operations a few months ago.

However, despite what the detractors routinely claim, the main source was not foreign donation. Of the total amount spent, 77 percent was by the government. One of the major works in that regard is the two roads linking the Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway with Addis Ababa City into two directions. The 28.1-km roads Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway is being constructed at a cost of more than 4.2 billion birr allocated by the government of Ethiopia and loan obtained from Chinese Exim bank. Another major example is the construction and renovation of 1,700-kms roads carried out in the Benshangul -Gumuz State with over 172 million birr in the last twelvemonths.

One of the major works in the transport sector is the two roads linking the Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway with Addis Ababa City into two directions. The 28.1-km roads Addis Ababa-Adama Expressway is being constructed at a cost of more than 4.2 billion birr allocated by the government of Ethiopia and loan obtained from Chinese Exim bank. Another major one is the construction and renovation of 1,700-kms roads carried out in the Benshangul -Gumuz State with over 172 million birr in the last twelvemonths

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Similarly, the capital city Addis Ababa, which has long been horrible in its roads network has seen a major leap unprecedented in her recent history. Addis Ababa has constructed more than 1,219- kms road in the last five years with more than 10 billion birr budget. Now, Addis Ababa's road coverage has reached 15.64 per cent raising the network to4,148-kms of which 2002- kms is asphalt , 727-kms cobblestone and the remaining1,419- kms is gravel.

In the processes, the city created jobs for more than 50,000 youths and women in cobblestone road construction. The same can be said with regard to other sectors of the transport industry. The government owned Ethiopian Air Lines serving people local and abroad remains as one of the best airline in Africa and continues to be a reputable enterprise in the world.

Now, the Ethiopian Airlines have six dedicated freighter aircraft currently operating two Boeing 777-200 LR freighters, the first to be operated in Africa, with two MD-11, and two Boeing 757freighters out of two hubs — main hub Addis Ababa and Liege, Brussels. The airline operates to 25 cargo destinations in Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia. Having a vast cargo network — 15 in Africa, seven in MiddleEast and Asia and two in Europe — Ethiopian operates in major trade lanes between Africa and Europe, Middle East and Asia, providing a convenient and reliable cargo service to and from the continent. Boosted by the growth of perishable exports from Ethiopia, the airline is now expanding its cargo network and fleet and aims to set up cargo hubs in Central, West and Southern Africa to cater for the growing need for reliable and affordable air cargo transport to and from the continent. Ethiopian cargo is at the final stage to be one of the seven business units of Ethiopian aviation group.

By 2025, Ethiopian plans to uplift 820,000 tonnes of cargo using 15 jet aircraft. To support the airline’s fast growth and achieve its goal in continuing to be the leading cargo service provider in Africa, existing facilities are also being upgraded and new ones are being built.

Of course, the data above is simply to give you a brief glance based on what I could collect from the media, mostly 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 the President said at 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”.