Thursday , July 29 2021

First battle of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for socioeconomic reform in a divided Ethiopia

SPrime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office this April, approval ratings fired, making it one of the most positive post-communist politicians in Ethiopia. In recent months, Ahmed has promulgated ambitious and revolutionary economic reform plans for the country, which is currently in a state of economic instability. Since establishing the bases for the Ethiopian Stock Exchange – a moment of prime importance for what is currently the world's largest economy without a purse – to a recent US tour. U., Abiy Ahmed began his ambitious mandate, promulgating dozens of new policies in a few months. However, his office coincides with a peak of ethnic segregation in Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa. Ethnic conflicts have led more than One million people away from their statemonth just this year. Ahmed's goals to rebuild Ethiopia's economy through ambitious socio-economic policies may exacerbate the predominant ethnic divisions, thus preventing the future development of Ethiopia.

Ethnic tensions are, in fact, what has led Ahmed to the office. Over 500 civilians died, with more than 1600 more detainees, during and after the 2016 anti-government protests in the Addis Ababa's hometown. The predecessor of Ahmed, Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, resigned under the pressure of these ethnic protests directed by Oromo and Abiy Ahmed, an Oromo, ascended to the office. Compared to its predecessors, Ahmed seems to be promulgating much more changes in politics, apparently for the best in the country. However, the benefits of these policies have not yet reached less-favored communities, thus promoting the disparity of wealth. For example, the Ethiopian Stock Exchange, a high-risk and high-cost investment that can be a feat for the economy of Ethiopia, remains inaccessible to most of the ethnically unrepresented communities and only reinforces the ethnic and socio-economic gap that continues to drive Conflicts throughout the country. The Ethiopian Stock Exchange can expect a similar result to the Ethiopian merchandise exchange, a similar concept introduced before the inauguration of Ahmed "High technology, low impact". Outside the capital, poorer and rural populations have less means to invest in stocks and participate in the type of economic transactions and activity that many of Ahmed's policies are destined to develop. Focusing on industry and economic development in urban areas, Ahmed effectively promotes a proliferation in rural-urban migration. This migration influences the distribution of Ethiopia's workforce, with young people moving to urban areas in search of jobs and higher opportunities and in turn creates a socioeconomic division based on the urbanization and age distribution of different regions. However, the studies show that investment in urban agglomerations in Africa has long-term benefits and provides a more permanent path to development, thus allowing a structural transformation; Urban investment solidifies long-term infrastructure development and encourages long-term industrial growth. Even so, the immediate ethnic crisis continues to accompany the process of urbanization and may continue to be an obstacle to this development and growth. While rural and agrarian development initiatives continue to be short-term solutions, Ahmed must prioritize them as a way to mitigate ethnic conflicts before reaching a critical level and thus allow Ethiopia to focus on future urbanization. The consequences of the socioeconomic crises that probably result from the lack of prioritization of rural development can undermine the benefits of Ahmed focused on urban development.

The fact that many of Ahmed's economic projects do not favor urban areas should not be overlooked. While a recent $ 1.3 billion loan from the World Bank intends to develop one rural security network And promoting poverty and relief from food insecurity, much of Ahmed's reform policies seem to focus on the urbanization and development of key urban areas such as the metropolitan area of ​​Addis Ababa. These prejudices inherent in urban development in turn can increase economic and political marginalization in rural populations, while Ahmed has promulgated poverty alleviation plans, their plans do not represent the development of the infrastructure and industry in the areas of ethnic tension affected by poverty . By focusing on development in urban areas such as Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa and other urban areas that cover only 16 percent of the combined 105 million Ethiopian population, Ahmed will perpetuate the outstanding ethnic issues that exist as the unequal distribution of wealth and favor those who They reside in areas that include economic development, such as Ahmed's own Oromo.

The recent policies of the prime minister, many of which are of high risk and high cost, including the establishment of a stock exchange, the heavy state investment in the semi-privatized recently Ethiopian airlinesand the impetus for the repression of the Great Renaissance of Ethiopia can benefit the more influential and political ethnic groups than the less represented groups, favoring ethnic socio-economic divisions and jeopardizing the long-term political and social stability of Ethiopia.

In addition, Ahmed continued sanctioning the capture of governmental lands in the footsteps of its predecessor. This problem is particularly tense in the Tigray region where recent development projects, some of which contracted with Chinese companies and development groups in the United States, resulted in the displacement of thousands of people from their homeland and the death of 140 people in protests followed. The issue of government land attacks is also frequent in the metropolitan area of ​​Addis Ababa, where the city of four million people is growing at a rate of up to 8 percent per year and represents a center for the industry. While Ahmed's economic development policies can benefit the growth of Addis Ababa, the expansion of the city into neighboring neighboring lands can stimulate the proliferation of ground attacks sanctioned by the government, which in turn provide the basis for ethnic conflict: the take From ancestral lands by a government led by a specific ethnic group, it does not predict good ethnic relations.

In addition, Ahmed spoke strong support for the resumption of the Great Renaissance of Ethiopia, a "mega prey" under construction on the Blue Nile, which generated much controversy with the lowest countries, namely Sudan and Egypt. Ahmed's interest in the reservoir may turn lead to budget problems, and although the investment can really benefit the country's economy, if these benefits reach the most disadvantaged ethnic groups, it remains questionable. Ahmed's support for the dam creates more concerns, the most important thing about people who can be displaced as the prey of a deposit. The Ríos International projections estimate that the dam could They move up to 20,000 people and flood 1,680 square kilometers of arable land, which represents a serious threat to the state of Benishangul-Gumuz, one of the border states of neighboring Ethiopia of Sudan, which continues to depend largely on agriculture. The local counter-attack after forced displacement and the flood of such a vast area of ​​land can also exacerbate ethnic tensions as the central government seizes the tribal and ancestral lands. Some, however, argued that the economic benefits to improve access to electricity and water and the benefits derived from the sale of surplus energy to neighboring countries such as Sudan and Kenya outweigh the loss of land. But regardless of the benefits obtained from the prey will reach people whose land is lost, the benefits can be excessively exaggerated. In addition, while the prey will increase the capacity of the Ethiopian electricity network, more than half of Ethiopians still do not have the electrical infrastructure to access electricity, which indicates how supposed direct benefits may not reach the most disadvantaged. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed must reconsider the impacts of the scale and placement of the prey, as well as the government's policy on land grabbing and the potential for compensation calculated for the land, to solve the crisis arising from the resumption of the Great Renaissance.

Ahmed's support for Ethiopian ethnic federalism and its segregatory policy also promotes a national culture of ethnic division, despite its public encouragement of a unified Ethiopia. The concept of ethnic federalism, which defines the eight states of Ethiopia by its dominant ethnic group, has led some to claim it "Ethiopia went farther than any other country by using ethnicity as the fundamental organizing principle of a federal system of government". Ethnic federalist policies can act to portray Ethiopia as a volatile region, even if it is one of the most stable countries and economies in sub-Saharan Africa. An adverse global image of ethnic divide and instability places Ethiopia in a position where the potential of crucial factors for economic development, such as foreign direct investment, can diminish considerably. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed should review ethnic Ethiopian federalism policies to achieve Ethiopia from a unified people, rather than a state of constant rivalry among its many different ethnic groups.

In summary, Ahmed faces many challenges in his mission for socioeconomic reform in Ethiopia. The recent policies of the prime minister, many of which are of high risk and high cost, including the establishment of a stock exchange, the heavy state investment in the semi-privatized recently Ethiopian airlinesand the impetus for the repression of the Great Renaissance of Ethiopia can benefit the more influential and political ethnic groups than the less represented groups, favoring ethnic socio-economic divisions and jeopardizing the long-term political and social stability of Ethiopia. To better ensure the rising development of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed may want to consider focusing on the review of ethnic Ethiopian policies of ethnic federalism and divert more money to projects of social and economic equality: investing in rural Ethiopia.

Photo: Flag of Ethiopia

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