‘Ethiopian Characteristics’ of Economic Growth and the Politics of Growth Bumps
By Habtamu Alebachew
Jan 23, 2013
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A dozen of outstanding policy makers and development economists warn about what they call the ‘growth bumps’ amidst remarkable economic spur in developing states. It is true that a phenomenon of rapid economic growth in previously structurally poor countries could breed very undesirable, even more dangerous concomitant social malignancies than poverty does. Many economists agree that inflationary pressures, inequality, unemployment and environmental degradation are the most common on the list . These undesirables have affected many starter societies of economic growth in the global South including China, the Asian Tigers, Brazil and others, of course, in different ways and degrees of severity 
In extreme cases, scholars of political economy blame on these challenges of growth for causing usually short, middle and long-term revolutionary upheavals, and a series of bloody regime breaks in the period between 1950 and 1980 particularly in Latin America and Africa.
The Economist reminds us of these negative side effects as responsible factors ironically in the 2010 and 2011 Arab Spring; namely, Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan revolutions . Apparently learning from these and other previous social and political upheavals, International Organizations like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, economists and state leaders have paid special focus on the above socio-economic challenges of growth. 
A number of studies and dialogues have continued to dominate discourses on how to deal with these bottlenecks in the era of controversially globalized economic interaction. The thorny limitation however is lack of consensus on the real causes and propellant background factors of the crises, specifically in relation to newly emerging and fast growing states.
Ethiopia joined the family of these rapidly advancing economies since 2004 with an unusually high annual average of 11% of growth rate. This is one of the fewest top world records while it stands to be one of the three leading economies in Africa. What makes this growth rate additionally exceptional is that it is a non-oil economic growth. While this achievement becomes no more a point of doubt, the concern of the debate has recently shifted to the dialogue over the extents in the severity of growth bumps. Unfortunately, a good many scholars and policy consultants inject ideological syrups into the debate that makes shared understanding again difficult. Some tend to exaggerate the speed in inflationary hikes, while others distort the levels of income inequality and unemployment.
Some skeptic economists including Ethiopians inside and outside rarely accept government reports and estimates unless global institutions give them a nodding head. Most of these scholars pose theories and approaches as their rationales for doubting reports while others pick previous experiences of other late starter societies. Still others depend on contrary reports from other sources as evidences to refute public communications. By deliberate design or otherwise, these arguments bring emerging dangers of ‘income inequality’ and ‘inflation’ as unfolding bottlenecks of Ethiopia’s growth. From these, they conclude that the entire fate of Ethiopia’s growth could be one of the probable cases of growth up-break without sustainability.
This paper is an argument of political economy in rejection of these assumptions. It underscores that there is a special and distinct attribute of economic growth in Ethiopia. One could safely brand this distinctiveness as ‘Ethiopian Characteristic’ of development. Based on this, it tries to show that ‘Ethiopian characteristic’ of growth has been subjected to wrong interpretations as a ‘sign of poorly sustainable growth trajectory’.
1. Critics in Perspective
One vibrant issue provoking scholarly question by critics was the data on ‘income inequality’ presented by the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi. Some economists expressed doubt over Meles’s Colombia University speech of the Ethiopian level of income inequality as one of the lowest world records, as low as .0. 29 Gini Coefficients. In fact, this level of income inequality proves to be a surprise for many analysts and researchers. These critical economists heavily doubt the genuineness, if not the accuracy, of this report for both theoretical and practical reasons.
According to them, it is difficult to accept Meles’s data for three major reasons. Firstly, most renounced economists come up with theories and approaches contrary to Meles’s finding and report. One critic mentions the renounced economist Kuznets, for example. Kuznets postulates that a growth-starter economy as a rule generates an avoidable phenomena of ‘income inequality’, all other factors of any nature and variable kept constant. The critic emphasizes the main point in Kuznets argument that almost equates the first steps in economic growth of a society with a natural income differentiation among households. Kuznets regards this even as a condition of sustainable growth in the long-run. For Kuznets , growth is least likely without a sizeable occurrence of socio-economic stratification that logically manifests itself in income inequality.
Critics step to practical cases after they raised a question how Ethiopia’s lowest record of Gini Coefficient happens to be the case against the premises and arguments of Kuznets’s theory. The critics mention, for instance, most successful states of economic growth from ground zero as showcases of initial income inequality or polarized disparity among households, other factors set aside. They list China, South Korea, the Asian Tigers and others to have suffered from wide inequality rates as high as .46 in China and .44 Gini Coefficient in South Korea. They argue that Meles’s estimate of Ethiopia’s Gini Coefficient is much closer to the average of wealthy Scandinavian states as low as .24. Gini Coefficient. These states succeeded in registering this much lowest rate many years after initial growth through generous government interventions.
The critics raised a third point of doubt over Meles’s data, which they identify as a possible methodological error or misinformation or technical inadequacy. For them, full time and independent economists and researchers have to study Meles’s estimation of .29 Gini Coefficients again for more reliability. This is because Meles might submit to politico-ideological temptations as a Prime Minister than as an economist. In short, these economists argue that Ethiopia’s case of Gini Coefficient of income inequality is strange for the world of modern economics, hard to take for granted.
Going from income inequality to inflation  and unemployment situations, we find the experts of International Monetary Fund, critics since early 1990s, the United Nations Development Program and other economists. For this group of critics of Ethiopia’s economic growth and reports of growth bumps, the major and strategic challenges to the country’s growth are inflation and unemployment. For IMF and World Bank economists, skyrocketing inflationary pressure could endanger not only the present growth but also the entire economy and the people at large. As compared to other records of inflationary rates in emerging economies, Ethiopia’s inflation is growing at alarmingly the fastest speed estimably.
On the causes and aggravating factors of inflation, IMF experts did not hesitate to blame on the management of fiscal policies of the Ethiopian government. According to them, the excessive money pumped into the economy takes the major causative factor. In addition, the government is the responsible economic agent, for IMF, as it is the dominant supplier of the excess money and designer and regulator of macroeconomic policies and fiscal instruments. IMF criticizes the huge government expenditure as an immediate cause of the inflation; it triggers escalated aggregate demand for produces whereby the amount of money supplied into the market outstrips aggregate supply. 
In addition, the IMF mentions low interest rate on deposits, imported inflation particularly that comes with oil, negative consumer and supplier expectations, tight foreign trade and foreign currency regulations, etc, adversely contribute for the rising inflation. The IMF hints that the inflationary pressure could aggravate unemployment, income inequality, declining investment and macroeconomic shocks. IMF suggests sharp reduction in public expenditure, elevating saving interest rate and liberalizing international trade as possible remedies for the problem in Ethiopia’s context. 
Needless to say, the inflationary phenomenon went the extent of being a point of imminent instability on the part of some ultra domestic oppositions and so called international civil societies. The question is however whether these doubts and warnings have based themselves on the real nature, trajectories and patterns of economic growth in Ethiopia, as we are going to discuss below.
2. Ethiopia’s Economy—Growth Bumps Discussed
The two most significant growth bumps that have caused heated debates on Ethiopia’s performance have been ‘income inequality’ and ‘inflation’. The Ethiopian government leaders and experts have never denied either the rates or the extents of problems these bums aggravated. Let us briefly look at them by way of appreciating their occurrences in relation to the overall national economic policy and praxis. This would help us to progress to our issue of determining the chances of growth sustainability finally.
2.1. Income Inequality
Back to the critics above, let us reasonably assume that Meles used a random sampling technique to extract data in his calculation of Ethiopia’s Gini. He collected these data based on the economics principle of keeping all other factors constant. Let us also assume that Meles by this did not consider policy, geographic, social, political, etc, factors. He then computed his data into a Gini Coefficients and found out that it was 0.29 for that year by comparing against the data of some base year. The interpretation of his finding shows that Ethiopia’s Gini is quite different from many other economies. It shows that Ethiopia did not face exaggerated income inequality at its growth up-break and take-off. With these findings disclosed, what should the duty of a concerned economist be?
I firmly believe that automatic rejection does never count simply because Meles’s finding contradicts Kuznets’ theory or others. It subjective agreeably proves wrong to make Gini computations based on a prior thesis or other baseline. After findings, however, scholars are free to come up with detailed explanations. Thus, the turn should go to scholars of political economy to explain how this happened to be the case once economics completed its job regardless of who the author might be. Secondly, Kunzite’s theory of ‘initial inequality’ and a ‘later decline’ as a condition of starter economy for dramatic up-break growth has to come into limelight. One should remember that Ethiopia’s case could be an exception that could challenge the reliability of Kunzite’s thesis.
From the standpoints of political economy, there are strong cases that support Meles’s finding of 0.29 Gini of Ethiopia’s inequality ratio for that year, probably before and after. From among these, the Ethiopian socio-economic structure, the level of initial income and quality and direction of policy interventions greatly work as background factors.
Like almost all economies in Africa and the global south, one of the socio-cultural harbors breeding income inequality, at rapid growth or before, is patriarchy. As an agrarian society, the adult male group, at the apex of patriarchal rule, has had traditional prominence in control of economic resources against the advantages of women and the young population. In this case, access to land and cattle property matters as immediate agents of wealth distribution and the income curve. Patrimony also matters. 
The family network and kinship structures shape the transfers of property in which rigid and closed cultural lines arrest wealth within the ranks of distinct groups. Access to wealth in this case is dictated by blood and cultural criteria than by market forces affecting the patterns of the overall wealth distribution. Crony networks also evidently determine the directions of income flows when prependal and predatory governments come into office particularly with a national monoculture but lucrative economy, like oil, diamond and others.
The Meles-engineered economic and growth policy has adequately realized the persistence in Ethiopia of these elements within the fundamental socio-economic structure. Meles and his regime started their initial work by constitutionally placing land under public ownership. Ethiopia is probably the only case in Africa to inhibit constitutionally a permissive legal condition for the sale and mortgaging of land resources by farmers and holders to a third party. This routed out practically and permanently possibilities of uncontrolled patriarchal wealth distribution for three reasons: first, it has guaranteed women that they are equally in control of household land holdings. Secondly, the potential value trends of patriarchal actors structurally declined to amass monopolistically land resources through purchase and mortgagee, and collect land rent through hiring and transferring to third parties and so on. Thirdly, this tenure system allows the government to manage autonomously foreign investment and the productive use of land.
The economic policy erects itself as rural development priority with a free-market orientation encouraging market-led agricultural productivity spur. Meles founded the rationales of economic growth on the maximum utilization of initial resource inputs at the hands of peasant households—money, labor and technology. His government broadly intervened in generous extension programs provided on house-to-house chain of assistances. Local administrations practiced equally broad and horizontal peer experience sharing through 1 into 5 target farmer arrangements.
The revised extension strategy in 2002 incorporated formerly least touched parts like pastoralist and remote communities. Tactics of economic diversification and specialization based on ecological distinctiveness have guided the overall government intervention. This praxis13—public ownership of land, exercise of market-led production and massive intervention together–has resulted in curving the three dangers of distorted wealth distribution among households, which had at the start-up growth period, more or less, homogenous income structures.
This directly affected the urban-rural development interaction in which urban centers provided jobs for the unavoidable agro-surplus labor due to land shortages. Environmental engagements have contributed a lot for the respite of demographic pressures by absorbing landless and jobless as well as food-insecure rural labor. That land is public kept the process of labor socialization at it lowest. This is because of the fact that the estimated 20 million rural households have farming plots of land at their deposals makes them permanently employed and both producers and consumers. This structural tool greatly absorbs possible pressures of inequality and unemployment shocks. Because, income is, logically speaking, distributed as horizontally as the basic economic resource in Ethiopia, land itself.
Unlike other African countries with colonial past, there are no special and powerful rural interests like settler economies in Ethiopia that could obstruct the government to play its required roles in rural land administration for the goal of symmetrically initiated and maintained growth. There are no challenges in Ethiopia to government growth policy arising from transfer of urban and rural land holdings to financially giant multinational corporations through outright sale or prolonged rent. This partly explained the reasons why the Meles-government could effectively mobilize about thirty five thousand Development Agents throughout rural Ethiopia whose contribution for roughly symmetrical growth was appreciably immense.
It is within the prism of these narratives of Ethiopia’s political economy that the issue of the reportedly lowest Gini has to find explanations.
Inflation diffused its effect particularly since 2006 resulting in a rapid phenomenon of double-digit price hike reaching its peak of 36% in early 2012 . Five features describe inflationary pressure in Ethiopia’s context. Firstly, the frequently gathered data from the assessments for consumer price index show that inflation occurs on a set of basket goods within the household food category. Second, the inflation surfaces itself amidst rapid economic growth with a double-digit rate; third, it mainly negatively affects the low-income group in predominantly urban centers including the state servant and pensioners, whose income is heavily elastic to price changes. Four, inflation becomes a real price hike mostly periodically following the advents of public holidays. Finally, setting price ceiling through negotiations with trader associations tended to positively affect the fast pace of price hike in 2011 than setting price floors by the government.
The good news is that inflationary rate drops by an average of 15% from its close to 36% at present despite the incidences of public holidays. The goods most affected by the decline are luckily those items, which are culturally inelastic and price insensitive including teff, meat, pepper, onion, butter and others.16 This decline proves to be the second round of big achievement after the effective stabilization of inflationary growth across building and construction goods in the previous years. The decline of as high as 13% occurs as a fast drop in inflationary rates particularly on steel and other imported goods. It was, however, a decline in former price tags, not simply in inflationary rates, on other goods like cement with a dramatic reduction of about 49%–from birr 340 per quintal to Birr 160, VAT excluded.
It has not been on the inflationary phenomenon, the real statistics, and the degree of the social damage that there were heated debates and disagreements among stakeholders and other parties. It was rather on the very causes and policy responses that disagreement reined. The late Prime Minster, Meles Zenawi, had a firm stand at the early up-break days of the economic growth in that he rejected the growth as the key culprit behind the inflation. He persistently resisted IMF pressures and consultations to slow down the pace of the growth as a possible remedy. With the advancement of both growth and inflation side by side, Meles grew to be more pragmatic having stressed on the possibility of multiple sources without dropping his focus on growth-friendly explanation of the inflation. .
Recently, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgn  reported not only the decline in the rate of inflation but also the growth in the rate of the most basic goods—teff by about 10% for instance. Before this report, Meles explained in 2010 about the mysteries of Ethiopia’s escape from the effects of the global financial crisis that soon matured into economic downturn. He said that realistic and inside out looking policies and instruments salvaged Ethiopia and its economy from similar domino-expanding wave of crises. The protection of domestic financial institutions and a prudent macroeconomic management insulated the economy from the intrusions of foreign capital and finance, which bore dangers of inflation. As practice shows, Ethiopia is one of the few economies in the developing world with little or no chance for what economist call arbitrage to make an intrusion into its financial market. This is the fruit of its insistence on its fixed exchange rate as the basis of its macroeconomic policy.
Ethiopia’s economic and growth policy also underlines that the overall inside out growth direction has to make the people equally beneficiary. It is a growth strategy based on the development of balanced intersectional growth.19 As such, rural development is at the cornerstone not only of creating a new annual domestic wealth but also a tool to fight the dangers of inequality and inflation. The national growth trajectory has recently shown adequate signs of structural shift in which export registered a World Bank endorsed fastest spur. This however led the Bank to pick the export sector as the key focus of growth policy. This indirectly meant ‘significant trade liberalization’ and a gross shift from agriculture to manufacturing. This did not and should not get a positive response from the Ethiopian government.
As far as inflation is concerned, the government made it official that its public borrowing from the national bank, share of foreign originated budget-complementing loan, tax evasion and new money supply appreciably declined. On the other hand, the inflow of foreign direct investment, program loan, remittances, revenue collected, etc, have registered significant increases. The report also assures that there has been any consideration of delaying or slowing down any of post-Meles megaprojects, which require the government of paying huge expenditures.
The news of a fast decline in the rate of inflation came amidst all these stories. This shows that Meles’s beliefs that an accelerated growth can only address growth related or controversially growth caused bumps of growth proves correct.
3. Growth Spell–Brief Comparison
Is it acceptable that the above growth bumps could give way for poorly sustainable economic growth in Ethiopia? What does Ethiopia’s growth path so far look like against this background? 0
These questions do still matter as they ask whether a reversal to a down-break point in the real GDP growth is a possibility or not as happened almost as matter of rule in other African and Latin American economies. These questions are critical again for three major reasons in the study of growth economics. Firstly, empirical data sufficiently witness that growth take-off and a period of growth up-breaks were not the problems of many developing countries. The most difficult part of the job for states and their societies has always been keeping up and insuring the continuation of the growth in its previous size, rate and speed at its start. Secondly, any starter country is never autarchic in the sense that external factors out of the controlling hands of governments usually abound challenging up-break growth continuity. With all controversies aside, the oil shocks in 1973 triggered by anti-west embargo of Arab states contributed a lot for the incomplete growth spell of many African states. The financial crisis in 1997-8 equally affected the rapid growth spell of Asian Tigers where recovery took longer period. Thirdly, growth, as implied above, could induce adverse still dubiously its own laggards that reciprocally shorten and kill the growth spell like instability. This happens when a growingly significant population feels that the growth rather leaves it behind benefit edges.
To clear the ways toward answering this question later on, let us also see the growth trajectories of Ethiopia briefly as compared against other similar economies.
Ethiopia’s current growth began shifting the gear in 2003-2004 with, in the words of economists, a leap growth up-break at a rate of 11.6%. This growth rate at its announcement by the late Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, appeared for many at the time a fictitious story of political calculation. This up-break has continued as assured growth spell over the previous nine consecutive years and widely expected to persist in the future. The continuity of this growth spell in the future is a matter of death-and-life priority for several subsequent economic ramifications. Together with the current rate of double digit record uncommon elsewhere, the persistence in growth spell determines the critical questions of poverty reduction, income in/equality, un/employment, dis/investment, and several other consequences.
A dozen of African states also underwent three levels of growth spell records since independence in early 1960s—zero growth break, marked fluctuations, and down breaks after a brief growth spell. In the late 1950s-1960s, there were many African states south of the Sahara with an average 10.3% rate of growth up-breaks particularly after 1964-5. In late 1970s, there remained only three states with positive record of growth at a slightly varied growth rate from 10.3%, below or above. The number showed a little progress in the early 1980s, but declined later and persisted until the middle of the 1990s. Until this period, most African countries south of the Sahara, with Ethiopia being one of the most notable ones of this group, saw a down-break registered at an average of -3.4% for 26 years. About 12 states however recovered after 1996 having resumed a return to significant real GDP growth at an average of 5.9%.
Latin American countries followed more or less similar growth spell trajectory heavily marked by significant fluctuations. In the early 1950s-60s, 4 countries showed an average of a 4.0% up-break growth rate but declined to two countries in the 1990s. In the 1970s, five countries took an average of 14.3 years of growth spell but only 2 of which saw complete growth spell well up to the 1990s.24 Others passed to reversals within less than a decade to down-breaks. Most African countries of early record of growth up-breaks sneaked to decline and finally faced down-breaks within an average of 8.3 years. Most advanced and a group of Asian economies, however, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan underwent a protracted and complete growth spell lasting on average for more than 33.3 years. Almost all have generally persisted up to the end of the 1990s punctuated by heavy recessive shocks in 2007 and 2009.
Ethiopia’s current growth spell persists with a dramatic increase in GDP that jumped from $100 annual income in 2000 to about more than $400 in 2012. The average growth rate maintains about .04% of the lowest rate of fluctuations over the past nine years. Income disparity is as low as 0.29 Gini Coefficients with a fast declining rate of populations within below poverty lines reaching 28% from its 54% record in 2003-4.
Projections for the coming years vary from one source to the other on the rate, but generally agree that Ethiopia’s growth will persist into 2013, 14, 15 and 16.
Leaving projections aside, Ethiopia, at present, has successfully crossed the world red light, danger zone, average growth spell of 8.33 years, admirably, safely. At the ninth year, Ethiopia registered still a double-digit growth rate, now, with little worry whether World Bank endorses the rate or not. Thus, unlike the counter arguments by critics, Ethiopia’s economic growth unquestionably proves that it has caused increased income equality. The success story is not however that it simply has caused income equality; it is exceptionally an assured outcome of fair distribution. To my happiness, who can refute this argument either theoretically or empirically?
4. Ethiopia: Growth Trajectories
A critical evaluation of economic growth in Ethiopia since 2003-4 demonstrates that it clearly draws and leaves behind it discernible trajectories. A brief comparison clarifies what Ethiopian-specific versus regional and global common trajectories one could discover out of its growth. Generally seen, Ethiopia’s growth trajectory as a phenomenon is least comparable with industrialized countries in the West for one fundamental and key justification. That is the extremely wide gap in the level of socio-economic growth in the West caused a huge structural differential against Ethiopia. This makes direct and unreserved emulation of the former’s trajectory almost mathematically unthinkable and impossible. Here lies the fundamental point of departure in drawing the exceptionally Meles-engineered growth trajectory of Ethiopia.
This socio-economic inconsistency with the west consequently posed the following four strategic challenges to Ethiopia’s growth. Firstly, western economies effectively controlled the global market and shaped the New Post-Communist Economic World Order in their tastes. The signatures of Washington Consensus were still far from being dry. Secondly, as the result of the above, these industrialized countries of Western, Europe, America and Japan had a dominant presence across the industrial, manufacturing and information market with a significant market share estimably close to 55% in industry and manufacturing, and about 81% in the ICT. Thirdly, agricultural subsidy in these economies was the order of the day while there was a big wave of brain drain from south to north. Moreover, their giant multinational and trance-boundary corporations were in active navigation across the globe almost unchecked. Fourthly, fast track 12 liberalization of African economies under western influence was in vogue following the end of the Cold War Period in 1991-2.27 The liberalization project, as orchestrated by the powerful world financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as global financial and monetary instruments, cruised fast to affect the political economy of most developing states, here and there.
It was against this gloomy background that Ethiopia started the significant up-break of its economic growth in 2003-2004. In short, the global economic landscape and the New World Economic Order proved to be an obstacle than a supportive factor with immense challenges for Ethiopia, a country with little or no drop of Anglo-Saxon respect and hope.
Ethiopia’s economic growth trajectory is actually comparable rather with the experiences of those late starter economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Government, like the case in China, Japan, the Asian Tigers and Botswana, has emphasized the role of the state in economic growth as opposed to western trajectories.
This trajectory has also gone almost squarely opposed to other developing states in Africa and Latin America, which had been undergoing the Structural Adjustment Program since the 1990s. The state elevates itself to the position beyond simply creating a free market environment to assume the provider role of basic growth tools and public goods, which the market could not furnish.
The government has prioritized rural agrarian structural shift as the center of Ethiopia’s growth trajectory but with no accumulated or acquired wealth as an initial input for purchasing technology. Ethiopia could hardly win donor states and loan-providing world financial institutions that its unusually distinct growth polices would achieve their goals. However, its insistence finally convinced them to revise their own policies and view particularly on the roles of the state and agricultural-led growth.
This strategy resembles experiences of those states of wide success stories collectively known as Newly Agriculture-developed Countries in Latin America, including Argentina, Brazil and others. For structural and other reasons, this trajectory differs from those of Asian Tigers, Japan, to some extent to China and Botswana. While Asian economies28 started growth break and sustained its spell with special focus on expert-led but in side out market strategy, Botswana blended both meat production with diamond mining and export. Ethiopia promotes export in direct link with the agricultural-led industrialization policy by liberalizing export restrictions to the point of zero. Export diversification dominates government intervention strategy a bit differing from Asian experiences of specialization and comparative advantages.
For this to materialize, Ethiopia insists on public ownership of land and the protection of selected domestic industries as well as the entire financial sector.
5. ‘Ethiopian Characteristic’ of Growth—Concluding Remarks
It is now clear but debate begging further that Ethiopia has been sufficiently managing its rapid economic growth not in the blind carbon copy of other experiences and the pressures of classical theories and approaches. Of course, the Meles-drawn calculus of Ethiopian economic growth has based itself on undeniable truths gained from classic liberal theories. The shift toward free market operations, specialization in assured comparative advantages, the importance of Foreign Direct Investments, etc, are cases in point. However, Meles redefined all these best liberal experiences into Ethiopia’s realities. For Meles, free market primarily means that the farmer should have a household level freedom for freely disposing one’s fruits of labor-produces and all assets at hand. There were no quota-based submissions of any one of one’s grains to the government, no tariff at checkpoints, no feelings of insecurity from possible conscriptions, etc.
The concern for the rural farmer goes beyond this. It also includes provisions of direct public assistance where each household enjoys professional advice to prioritize productions of market-led produces. In a word, Ethiopia’s growth is greatly exceptional in that it is a broad based national mobilization, the secret of its unstoppable growth spell in the previous decade and a source of confidence for the future. Meles immortalized himself in mercilessly facing mounting pressures from in side and outside. He advanced three specific metaphoric underpinnings of principle of Ethiopia’s growth model in his battle against modernist neo-liberals everywhere: Ethiopia includes, for socio-economic reasons, not only the flour per se but knowing who grinds it and how that is possible—the farmer.
As the logical outcome of this, Ethiopia’s economic growth becomes a unique case of development with little or no incidence of sudden drops or windfalls. It also grows as an exceptional project uniquely designed to have become most painful and complex at its start, relatively original but odd to understand, well-knitted but dubious about its future ,fate, and so on. Now, it has already become much clearer. Moreover, starting from ground-zero in unreserved resistance to powerful foreign economic stakeholders, sticking to the centrality of human-centered development, consistently advancing state-sponsored support of the population at household level almost in blanket fashion, etc, are rarely reported cases elsewhere than Ethiopia.
As compared to other growing economies, Ethiopia’s economic growth has shown no sign of reversal in its growth spell. Inequality is at its lowest. Inflation fluctuates but greatly tends to decline without slowing the pace of growth. Thus, without the need to undertake further and detailed empirical researches, an agreement with these positive reports lead one to conclude that Ethiopia’s growth is predictably a sustainable process. These policies take the largest share for the lowest incidence of income inequality and declining inflationary rate. This is therefore the essence of the ‘Ethiopian characteristic’ of economic growth, which is challenging and will continue to challenge modern economists.
The general message of Ethiopia’s growth trajectory is therefore this: we, Ethiopians, grow but never to look like Europeans or Americans; we are growing, can and should grow with our Ethiopian identity and essence remaining structurally intact.