Ethiopia is demonstrating that humanitarian needs or crises in Africa does not have to subsume and/or dominate the narrative. Humanitarian needs can be addressed within a larger national goal of economic growth.
Three years of drought across Ethiopia has not distracted from the economic viability and attractiveness of Ethiopia for foreign investment. Ethiopia is ranked among the top 10 most attractive investment destination in Africa in 2017, according to the latest Africa Investment Index 2018.
An independent research arm of Quantum Global (QG), reported that Morocco ranks first, followed by Egypt and Algeria in the second and third places. Botswana ranks 4th, Cote d'Ivoire 5th, South Africa 6th, Ethiopia 7th, Zambia 8th, Kenya 9th, and Senegal
Ethiopian Investment Commissioner Fitsum Arega told reporters on Wednesday that despite unrest, the country attracted 2.2 billion USD in the first half of this fiscal year, up by 22 percent from that of same period last year. Accordingly, various companies with over 2 billion USD have also expressed interest to invest in the country over the coming year.
It is important to note that this has not happened by chance. In 2016, Ethiopia faced one of its worst drought in 50 years with over 10 million people affected and with prediction of possibly rolling back years of economic achievement. While recognizing this potential challenge, the country took on the leadership of the response in ways unprecedented in the country and Africa.
Ethiopia’s very strong and decisive leadership in responding to the 2016 drought crisis not only ensured that a humanitarian catastrophe was avoided, but that its economic trajectory stayed on track.
For a start, recognizing the critical role of humanitarian reporting in fostering appropriate response, Ethiopia through the 2016 response was intentional about the messaging of the drought impact and response.
For the country, it was important that the drought response showcased the country’s economic achievement in the last 50 years. Ethiopia was the major funder of its humanitarian response, and the humanitarian response was implemented through national systems established, developed and strengthened over the last 50 years. Ethiopia’s achievement in the response was celebrated and showcased at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. At the event, the country noted that in the past, droughts of this magnitude killed many, and caused profound suffering, but the impact of this drought in 2016 has been different.
Humanitarian reporting on the crisis struck a balance between the severity of the crisis as well as the economic achievements through which the response was being mounted. Partners did not minimize the crisis neither did they undermine the strong national systems through which the response was being carried out.
Ethiopia’s strong health system, with over 38,000 Health Extension Workers on Government pay-roll and a ‘Health Development team’ of over 3 million volunteer women from rural Ethiopia, provided the backbone of the 2016 drought response. Humanitarian partners supporting in the response, realized quickly that this was indeed a new Ethiopia and a new way of responding to humanitarian needs in the continent.
`Our preparation and priorities over the past decade has meant that we have been focusing on pro-poor policies, introducing disaster response management into all aspects of governance, strengthening government ministries, introducing satellite imagery and evidence-based analysis, and intensifying support to the agriculture sector.” Says Ethiopia’s spokesperson at the WHS two years ago.
From the recent FDI report, Ethiopia is still on track with its strategy and very clear national vision to achieve middle-income status by 2025 while developing a climate resilient economy.