By Dawit Befirdu
Tigrai Onlne - June 14, 2014
Dear readers! In part one of this article, I presented about ‘Ginbot 20’ victory day, a day that enabled the people to have grand ambitions and to try to achieve those ambitions. And on this part of the article, I’ll try to look into the other fruits this day has brought us….
Chapter 3 – Road to the Renaissance Path
As a result of the ‘Ginbot 20’ victory day, our country not only lowered its vulnerability to internal security problems, but it also started to play its own role in securing its neighboring countries’ peace. Especially, the country’s major role in the two Sudan peace deal; and in calming the conflict that erupted following South Sudan President Salva Kiir and the former Vice President Dr. Riek Machar’s dispute.
As we all know, Sudan has been a country that was riffed with civil war for years. It can very well be said that the civil war is the longest and the most devastating (both in terms of human lives and property damage) of all the wars that erupted in Africa.
There wasn’t a time where the international community backed down from making diplomatic efforts to stop the civil war and bring lasting peace to the country. Our country, especially, has made large effort for peace in Sudan. Out of the diplomatic efforts made for Sudan’s peace and stability (security), the one made by our great leader Ato Meles Zenawi takes the lion share.
As the Ethiopian people and government firmly want the lasting peace they edified in their own country for Sudan as well, they have tirelessly worked for the brother people of that country. They have taken the lion share in ending the civil war that has been the sole reason for the deaths of many and for the destruction of the country’s wealth.
Of course a base for peace and development has been erected in our country. Nevertheless, the lack of peace we see in our neighboring countries will make our border areas not free from threats. And this has forced us to put extra manpower to curb the threat that’s posed from the areas.
So, peace in Sudan means, there is a chance that these areas will be free from threats. With this, we’ll find the opportunity to do developmental works without any hindrance. It will also help for the people-to-people relation between the countries to continue peaceful and smooth. And most importantly, it will give a huge support (boost) for both countries to work together on peace related issues. Peace in Sudan means a base for mutual development to flourish.
This is because there are tons of options for both countries to work on like trade, investment, development etc … Thus, it can be said that the negative impact lack of peace and stability in Sudan has on the development integration between the countries cannot be underestimated.
Out of changes the country seen as a consequence of our country’s people and government’s continued diplomatic efforts for peace to reign in Sudan, South Sudan exercising its right to self-determination is one and the foremost. As a result, South Sudan has become the newest independent nation. And this was seen by the international community as a positive thing, and was also taken as a huge hope for both Sudan’s peace and stability.
All in all, even after South Sudan declared its independence, the expected peace and stability has not come to the area. In order to solve the recent crisis that was created by the two rivals, the Ethiopian government, through IGAD, has played (is playing) a major role.
And the international community has seen, through hard action that Ethiopia is a country that’s neutral and the one that truthfully stands for Sudan’s peace.
I think this was confirmed firstly, when the country was asked to send in its peacekeeping forces into ‘Abyei’, the controversial and contested region between the two Sudan, and secondly when the country wisely negotiated to settle the crisis that has erupted in south Sudan.
All in all, this shows that our country on top of guaranteeing its own peace, it has become the beacon of hope for our brothers in neighboring countries. And this implies that our country’s renaissance path; which started courtesy of ‘Ginbot 20’, is having its own fingerprint in neighboring countries.
‘Ginbot 20’ is also a momentous day that has enabled us to move rapidly within our renaissance path. The government-formulated five-year Growth and Transformation plan, especially, is playing a major constructive role in facilitating our renaissance path.
As we all know, although the plan seemed too-broad, as it has a strong involvement from the public, it’s becoming successful. So, here, I think it’s appropriate here to look into the performance of the Growth and Transformation plan - considering it is the basis of our renaissance.
As it can be recalled, 9.7% GDP growth has been recorded in the 2005 budget year; in which the agriculture has had a 7.1% share, while the industry and service sector both had a 18.5% and 9.9% shares respectively.
Although the recorded growth is slightly less than the planned goal, compared to other Sub-Saharan Africa countries 5% growth rate, it’s so much better. Especially considering the fact that it is recorded at a moment of challenging times at the global level, it can be safely said that it’s very impressive.
In an effort to take structural change on the country’s economy; despite the fact that the agriculture share on the country’s GDP has lowered from 46.5% in 2002 to 42.9% in 2005, the industry and service sectors have both risen in the same given time to 12.4% (from 10.3%) and 45.2% (from 44.1%) respectively.
It’s repeatedly said that the agriculture sector is the driving force and the main motor behind the 5–year development plan, and has a goal to increase its productivity by double. Here, it’s clear that the goal is too broad.
Nevertheless, we should take, the fact that the sector is the motor and leader of the five–year growth plan, in to account. Out of the arable land in our country, the small holder farmers takes up the main and majority role in working more than 95% of the labor that’s invested on the sector.
The main inputs needed for agriculture are land and labor; and they are more or less being utilized on the farmer’s lands. If we look at capital, we can see that it also occupies considerable share. And in a situation where the public is heavily involved and is the direct beneficiary of it, change will surely come.
In light with this, it’s necessary to ask why this sector, with huge expectations for it to hit its targeted goal behind it, hasn’t been able to garner the expected goals.
As it’s known, any successful results garnered in a certain country has to account for the global market, rise in prices (inflation) and the general atmosphere. With regards to this, we can see that the goal is successful.
If we especially can see the fact that the agriculture development and especially the five–year plan are part of long-term works, we can understand that there’s nothing that would stop for the five–year plan to hit its targeted goals.
With regards to curbing poverty, the government was able to lower the people living under the poverty line from 29.6% in 2003 to 26% in 2005, while confirming that it can hit the targeted 22.2% in 2007.
In relation to this, there is a goal to strengthen the government’s capability of collecting revenues and allow it to have a supportive role for other goals. There is a plan to rise the government’s tax revenue by 17% in which the federal government share will be (reach to) 15%.
Here, it should be noted that when we look into the government’s revenue in parallel, we should also be looking at its spending. With regards to this, in the year 2005, 70% of the gross government spending was allocated on five sectors that has a huge role in curbing poverty; sectors like education, health, agriculture, water and sanitation and rural road construction, cementing its huge role in expanding fair distribution of the benefits.
Out of the goals targeted to be realized within the five year growth and transformation plan, one is enhancing the public’s saving culture. By improving our saving culture (capabilities), there is a plan to reach to 15% within five years, and to continue on the some momentum before the five year period ends.
In the mean time the country’s gross saving has been able to grow from 5.2% in 2002 to 17.7% in 2005. Understanding it has over performed from the targeted 15% increment, it has been decided that there should be an effort made to make it 20% in 2007. This shows the growing saving culture of the public and that it has been able to record more than what’s on the plan.
In other side, it’s obvious that making huge investment and making sure its successful is a path to guaranteeing rapid economic growth. This is why fast growing countries (economies) usually employ 25-30% of their GDP on investment.
According to the 5 year growth and transformation plan, the share of investment in our GDP has raised from 24% in 2002 to 33% in 2003 E.C. And foreign exchange reserve has reached to 1 billion American dollars in 2005, recording a 16.5% average growth for the last three years. As this is behind with regards to the goal set in the 5 year plan, it implies a heavy makeup performance is needed in the remaining period.
As its known, the industry is one of the sectors that has been covered and worked on the growth and transformation plan. Micro and small scale enterprises are given huge importance in this sector.
This is because it’s (MSE) the main sector that creates job opportunities in cities, and it’s the main hub of basic job-creation in the economic growth plan.
Its not only in a country like ours that micro and small enterprises are taunted as major forces for job-creation. The list includes countries like America. It’s by taking into account that these institutions are huge sources of job opportunities not only for now but for the long haul that they’re given huge attention.
Even Japan; a country at the zenith of industrial and manufacturing development and home country to large multinational corporations like Toyota and Sony, do more than 50% of its developmental works through its manufacturing Institutions.
Thus, as these enterprises will inevitably become the main manufacturing force not only for now but once the 5 year plan is over, I think our country’s strategy that eyes to strengthen the industrial and manufacturing sector will give priority to these micro and small institutions.
On top of this, their role in creating developmental entrepreneurs has to be taken into account too. So, with the attention given to the industrial sector, huge efforts were made on organizing and supporting new micro and small enterprises, strengthening and helping them transform into medium–scale industries. With this, it has been able to create 2 million 21 thousand 670 job opportunities (both permanent and temporary) to citizens.
As its known the other goal of the 5-year growth and transformation plan is expanding the construction of public infrastructures even more. In three years, it has been able to increase the country’s road coverage to 58,330kms from 48,800 km in 2002. And under the all-encompassing rural road coverage program, up to then end of 2005, 27,628 km road was constructed, while the city and rural water and telecom expansion projects, the construction of railroad as and started hydro-power generating projects including the GERD are all going according to their planned schedule.
With regards to social development, it has been able to raise the number of primary schools to 34,495 in 2005 from 26,951 in 2002. Similarly, the number of students has also risen to 17.4 million in the same year from 15.8 million which was the number in 2002.
As the education and training policy has developed, it has been able to reap huge successes like expanded coverage of education, improved quality, and increased accessibility thereby assuring education without discrimination.
Enrollment into primary school which used to be about 20% twenty years ago has now risen to 95.1%. This grand success; a six fold increment, is not only confirmed by the experts of the field, but by the country’s development partners and the international community.
This success was garnered due to the government devolve system (from the federal to woreda level) it followed in schools construction, Community participation in the building of the schools and by implementing self-administering and accountable system.
With this, many number schools were constructed and are taking in students in the last twenty years, the lights which the country had it seen in 100 years. With regards to the number secondary school, it has increased to 1912 from 1335 (in 2002), while the number of the students reaching 1.5 million in 2005.
As our education system follows a devolved approach, it has able to bring about drastic changes. In relation to primary education to basic educational documents (students and teaching text books), after its prepared from the General education quality improvement package, the students and teaching books are prepared by the respective region’s (education language), and by basing it on their realities on the ground. And this has enabled to create suitable conditions to solve the country’s age old problem with regards to the education system.
As far as the Technical and vocational training institutions are concerned, although there haven’t been much growth in its enrollment capacity, but there have been improvement in giving practice education for the students by intertwining with the industrial sector. All in all, the number of the Technical and vocational training institutions which used to be 17 twenty years ago, has now reached to 505.
In parallel, the number (of students) that are involved in tertiary education including all undergraduate programs (both in the public and private schools), has reached to 553 thousand 848, reaching way ahead of the growth and transformation plan’s set goal.
In relation with the works done in increasing tertiary education expansion and accessibility, the number of government universities only has reached 31, paving the way for realizing the goal in the next two years.
The health is also one of the sectors that have been given attention in the 5 year growth plan. As well as can understand, creating productive citizens cannot be separated from creating healthy citizens. Thus, health and education program should be looked at together.
There are reasons that makes health program different from other programs. The first (main) thing (reason) is the fact that it focuses on servicing the rural people and focuses on basic health services.
And in order to realize the 5 - year plan, especially the plan to reduce infant and maternity death, works have been and still are being done by heavily focusing on pre and post birth service, infant vaccination and stopping malaria and other communicable diseases.
Especially with regards to reducing infant and maternal mortality rate, these measures have garnered positive results that have even shocked the international community as our country was able to realize the MDG with regards to this sector ahead of schedule. On this undertaking, the public’s participation especially the women’s has played a huge role.
In relation to health institutions construction, the number of health station which used to be 2,142 in 2002 has raised to 3100 in 2005, giving a promising hint that the set plan will be realized (with regards to the sector). The government’s priority to basic health service and effort to expand the coverage of the service is both the reason behind the success story, and also shows the governments (pro-people nature).
And in order to hit the goals that are set in the plan for the next two years, it’s right and sound to give attention to improve the quality of the service along with taking efforts to fulfill the gaps that are a hinder to realize the goal, with regards to the health sector.
Positive results were also recorded with regards to implementing capacity building and good governance strategy. As started works are encouraging, the democracy order building will continue to be strengthened in the coming years.
With regards to good governance, the main goal is not about creating the perfect government, but about creating a government that doesn’t make many big mistakes and that give amends by quickly noting and understanding those that are made.
As government is a collection of human not supreme beings, there can’t be a perfect system in relation to good governance, in any country.
Thus, the government that’s established in the country can only be an entity that moves by correcting itself, it cannot be a perfect entity as the ones working in it are humans. All in all, there have been successful works done with regards to good governance and democratic order building.
The last 23 years have been marked with extraordinary achievements in human and democratic rights. As its known, the main basis for the long protracted civil war of the country has to do with basic human and democratic rights not being protected.
Nevertheless, these demands that spanned generations have now been answered- thanks be to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for this cause. Today there are many Media outlets that reflect their own views freely by respecting the country’s Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation and other related laws.
The fact that there are more than 36 newspapers and magazines is a testament to this fact. ‘Ginbot 20’ truly marks the day that enabled any citizen of our country to reflect his/her own views freely in any Medias he/she sees fit.
Again thanks be to the dear children of our country’s nation, nationalities and people who gave their lives in the name of our peace, human and democratic rights.
Today there are many opposition parties operating in the country by exercising their right to association, which is bestowed upon them by the constitution that’s borne out of ‘Ginbot 20’. There is not a single government organ that interferes in the operation the opposition parties undertake to realize their own objectives.
They can give statements on latest national issue and to reflect their positions accordingly. They can be seen utilizing the media to increase their accessibility to the general public.
On top of this, the numbers of stages, where they can talk and debate with the ruling party with regards to latest national issues, are becoming rampant. This fact implies that human and democratic rights handling is further strengthening. ‘Ginbot 20’ is a victorious day that’s responsible for all this aforementioned feats.
Chapter 4 - It’s inevitable that we will achieve our grand ambitions
The aforementioned renaissance paths will surely help realize the country’s objective of entering middle-income countries. One and the foremost problem that came crumbling down from the previous regimes is poverty.
As we all can recall, both the imperial and the military junta regimes were busy chasing their own political and economical benefits, disregarding this shameful issue that has been at the heart of our peoples’ problem.
Accepting this enemy, which has a stronghold on the country, as it is, the FDRE government have spent many years fighting this disgraceful and shameful issue by saying ‘winning against poverty is an existential issue for us’.
This strong anti-poverty campaign that emanates from our government’s innate developmental, democratic and pro-people nature is gaining positive results by knocking on every problem.
With this millions of people; youth, women, are all joining the renaissance path by shrugging off extreme poverty. And also by building a democracy that’s in sync with the country’s realities, they are reaching to new heights.
These realities give loud voices that it’s inevitable that we’ll achieve our grand ambitions. With the ideals and principles of ‘Ginbot 20’, we can aim much higher than we currently are as it’s a day that was born out of our nation, nationalities and people bitter struggle for peace, development and democracy.
This is because we’re seeing through our own eyes, our renaissance path shattering into pieces the ‘no, we can’t do’ mentality that was holding us back for years.