Somaliland: What Kind Of Lesson We Can Learn From Ethiopia!
“Meles we commit to fulfill your vision” a note on a pill board in Addis-Ababa.
It is hard to believe that Ethiopia once was one of traditionally famine, drought and economically decrepit nations in the horn of Africa when compared to its position in Africa today. Over the last twenty two years the Ethiopian economic crisis, political instability and droughts seemed to be overcome because of their leaders who adopted long-term strategic plans which spurred rapid growth, specifically the late leader meles zenawi who played a significant role in shaping and leading the country into the right direction. Ethiopia has been one of Africa’s most rapidly expanding economies, despite a lack of minerals or hydro-carbons which have boosted many of Africa’s other fastest growing economies.
Ethiopia is very complex country one of the things that make that complex is multi ethnic groups. It has a history of conflicts. It was feudalism up to the middle of the 1970 and socialism from 1974 to 1991. The country consists of 9 federal states and two city administrations.
Meles was born as Legesse Zenawi on May 8, 1955, in Adwa in northern Ethiopia, to an Ethiopian father and Eritrean mother. Adwa was the site of a major Ethiopian victory against invading Italian forces in 1896. He quit medical school at age 19 to take up arms with the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front against Mengistu in 1975. He changed his name to Meles in honor of a revolutionary executed by the government that year.
Meles, was head of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, or EPRDF, and led Africa’s second-most populous country for more than two decades after building a coalition of rebel groups to overthrow Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Marxist military junta in 1991.
He received a master’s of business administration from the Open University in Milton Keynes, U.K., in 1995 and a master’s in economics from Erasmus University in Rotterdam in 2004.During those years he won four elections, enacted a new constitution, transformed Ethiopia into a federal state, witnessed the peaceful secession of Eritrea from Ethiopia, and engaged in a short war with Eritrea. In that time he went from being among Africa’s young lion leaders, to one of its most senior, steady and experienced heads of government.
He also succeeded in uniting the ethnic and religious diversity of the country by allowing people to manage their local affairs in an autonomous fashion, to use their own language, develop their own culture and to participate in the common federal political activities on an equal basis. This is what some people call ethnic federalism.
His economic policies, which mixed a large state role with private investment, helped the country achieve economic growth rates of as much as 12.6 percent. The economy expanded an average of 11 percent annually from 2004 through 2011, according to International Monetary Fund data.
Soon meles came into power his government implemented poverty reduction programs by creating political stability and economic growth in his impoverished country.
Many properties owned by the government during the previous regime have now been privatized and are in the process of privatization. However, certain sectors namely Telecommunications, Financial and Insurance services, Air and Land Transportation services, and retail are considered as strategic sectors and would remain under state control for the foreseeable future as well as he set up numerous small state industries such as sugar, textiles, leather and cement industries owned by the government, as a result of this, the government gets billions of dollars from them in every year and these are the major economic leading resources also he created a technical group of Ethiopian and international experts that was preparing a package of proposals to find a lasting solution to the economy, the group was putting the pressure on several priorities including improving livelihoods, agricultural and livestock production.
Agriculture is the backbone of the Ethiopian economy, accounting for 42 per cent of GDP and 85 per cent of export earnings in 2011 according to the African Development Bank. It has been a major focus of state economic support and with production increasing by an average of 8 per cent a year over the past five it has been an engine of growth.
Almost 50% of Ethiopia’s population is under the age of 18, and even though education enrollment at primary and tertiary level has increased significantly, job creation has not caught up with the increased output from educational institutes. The country must create hundreds of thousands of jobs every year just to keep up with population growth.
Therefore what kind of lesson we can learn from Ethiopia to be self-sufficient economically in a sustainable manner?
My concern today is that Somaliland needs a visionary leadership that shows us our hidden potential and directions with common objective of working together for their economic and social development, a leader that open the best in people and brings them together around a shared sense of purpose, a leader that builds a positive picture of the future, as well as a clear sense of direction as to how to get there. My desire is to see a leader that expresses great concern about the loss of skilled people and ask professionals and intellectuals who left Somaliland to a way that they can contribute to their country’s development.
To take forward steps similar to that of Ethiopia, first we need to invest ostensibly in areas such as: agriculture, livestock and light industries. The huge sum of money that are spent on unnecessary things must be directed and utilized by investing to income generating institutions that will boost the country’s weak economy.
And last but not least, we know that the road ahead is rough considering the many problems facing our nationwide, and we know that our resources are meager; but with our strong will and determination, we can certainly move mountains within our tenancy and leave behind a lasting legacy for the coming generation!
Written by: Farhan Abdi Suleiman (Oday)