Reinvigorating Democracy Through Reform
The triumphant entry of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) forces into Addis Ababa on 28th May 1991 marked the closing of a turbulent chapter of Ethiopia’s history, and the opening of a new one that paved the way for the adoption of an all-inclusive federal and democratic system in Ethiopia.
In the last twenty-seven years, Ethiopia has witnessed massive economic and social transformation that has changed the livelihoods of the majority of its citizens. Successive development plans, implemented by the government of Ethiopia, were instrumental in putting the country on a sound and sustainable growth trajectory. The implementation of broad-based, pro-poor socio-economic policies and strategies have enabled the country to register remarkable economic growth and bring about notable social-economic and political developments, which are instrumental in changing the livelihood of the population.
During the last quarter of a century or so, and particularly in the past 15 years, the economy has shown an average growth rate of 10.1%. As a result, the poverty rate fell from 44% in 2000 to 23.5% in 2015/16, the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita reached US$800 and life expectancy increased to 65.48 years from 47 in 2000. According to the latest International Monetary Fund forecasts, Ethiopia’s growth is expected to stay high in 2017/18.
The notable achievements in socio-economic sectors, such as education and training, and health provision have transformed the well-being of the public and, thereby, the economy of the country. There are now 33 million students in primary, secondary and tertiary education and the number of public owned universities has reached 53 from two universities in 1991.
Moreover, Ethiopia has embarked on massive infrastructure projects including the construction of roads, airports, railways, telecommunications and renewable energy. Since 1991, Ethiopia’s road network has increased six-fold from 19,017km to 113,000km.
In like manner, to cope with ever-increasing energy demands and to sustain the impetus of the thriving economy, Ethiopia has embarked on huge renewable energy generation schemes, which are central to the realization of the Climate Resilient Development Strategy, with the objective of achieving zero emissions by 2025. Today, Ethiopia’s electricity generating capacity has reached 4400mw from 375mw in early 1990 and is well on its way to producing 10,000 MW of clean and green electricity by 2020. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, currently under construction, will provide an additional 6,450MW of electricity upon completion in the coming few years.
While notable economic growth is evident, as a mosaic of nations and nationalities, Ethiopia also celebrates unity in diversity in a pluralist and democratic order. Ensuring a democratic order is quintessential to ascertain citizens’ rights, affirm good governance, and assure stable working and living conditions. Strengthening democratic institutions and widening political participation is important to mobilize around common goals and to involve the people in nation building. Owing to this fact, the government has set out various reforms and taken a series of measures that will further propel rapid economic growth, ensure good governance as well as the rapid delivery of services to meet public demands.
Equally important, over the years, Ethiopia’s role in the maintenance of regional peace and security has also delivered tremendous accomplishments, thanks to its well-crafted policies and to its commitment to peaceful means of conflict resolution and its active participation in numerous international and regional affairs, particularly in United Nations and African Union peace-keeping operations.
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