Region: Eastern Africa
Capital: Addis Ababa
Population: 78,254,090 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 1,127,127 sq km
Currency: CFA birr (ETB)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $800 (2007 est.)
After years of widespread protests against government policies, and brutal security force repression, the human rights landscape transformed after Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April 2018. The government lifted the state of emergency in June and released thousands of political prisoners from detention, including journalists and key opposition leaders. The government admitted that security forces relied on torture, committed to legal reforms of repressive laws and introduced numerous other reforms, paving the way for improved respect for human rights, ahead of national elections scheduled for 2020.
However, the authorities failed to adequately protect people in Gambella Regional State from repeated attacks by armed members of the Murle ethnic group based in neighbouring South Sudan. The Murle gunmen crossed the border to Ethiopia on 12 March and abducted 22 children from the Anuwa community. The authorities were not known to have taken steps to ensure the return of the abducted children to their families.
On the other hand, towards the realization of SDGs 3 and 5, Ethiopia started in 2018 a joint UNFPA-UNICEF programme, empowering vulnerable adolescent girls and boys to support themselves and make healthy decisions. This was thought to strengthen the capacity of government and non-government organizations to meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people and protect against gender-based violence and other violations of reproductive rights. Through sexual and reproductive health services, HIV/AIDS prevention services and other interventions, the programme has reached roughly 5.5 million people.
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is the current ruling party and has been in power since 1991. Since taking power, the EPRDF has led an ambitious reform effort to initiate a transition to a more democratic system of governance and decentralize authority. This has involved devolving powers and mandates first to regional states, and then to woredas, or district authorities, and kebeles, or village authorities.
Although the formal Ethiopian state structure has been transformed from a highly centralized system to a federal and increasingly decentralized one, a number of challenges remain. The national elections in 2005 and 2010, and the largely uncontested local elections in April 2008, illustrated the fragility of the democratic transition, the dominance of the EPRDF, and the weakened state of the opposition. The May 2010 parliamentary elections resulted in a 99.6 percent victory for the ruling EPRDF and its allies, reducing the opposition from 174 to only two seats in the 547 member lower house.
In January 2009, the Ethiopian Parliament passed legislation to regulate civil society organizations (CSOs). While many CSOs had long argued for a new and coherent framework, the new law is restrictive in demarcating areas of operations for different types of CSOs (for example by excluding those receiving more than 10 percent of funding from external sources from many areas of activity). The government and the Development Assistance Group (DAG), comprising bilateral and multilateral donors, have agreed that the implementation of the CSO law will be reviewed regularly through their joint High-Level Forum structure.
Ethiopian authorities continued to severely restrict basic rights of freedom of expression, association, and assembly. Human Rights Watch has reported that hundreds of Ethiopians in 2011 were arbitrarily arrested and detained and remain at risk of torture and ill-treatment.
Ethiopia's poverty-stricken economy is based on agriculture, accounting for almost 45% of GDP, and 85% of total employment. The agricultural sector suffers from frequent drought and poor cultivation practices. Under Ethiopia's constitution, the state owns all land and provides long-term leases to the tenants; the system continues to hamper growth in the industrial sector, as entrepreneurs are unable to use land as collateral for loans.
In 2011, the economy continued on the high-growth trajectory of the previous seven years. Growth has been broad-based, with the services and the industrial sectors growing at the highest rates. This momentum is expected to continue in 2012 and 2013, albeit at a slower pace. The five-yearGrowth and Transformation Plan (GTP), however, which emphasizes agricultural transformation and industrial growth, projects the economy to grow at much higher rates. In the 2010/11 fiscal year (8 July – 7 July), macroeconomic management failed to reduce inflation, which was driven mainly by escalating food prices. Both domestic and exogenous factors were responsible for causing the resurgence in inflation. These include a loose monetary policy, rising prices of imported inputs, malfunctioning of the domestic market, and supply shocks. However, inflation is expected to decline notably in 2013 owing to continued macro stabilization efforts. The government has been pursuing prudent fiscal policies which have focused on boosting domestic revenue mobilization and reducing domestic borrowing. This has led to improvements in the fiscal position in 2011. The fiscal deficit is, nonetheless, expected to increase during the GTP period. The balance of payments position improved in 2010/11 on strong export growth and increases in private transfers and external financing. Between 2010 and 2011, exports grew substantially while imports slowed down, thereby contributing to improvements in the trade deficit. The trade deficit is expected to deteriorate in 2012 and 2013 which will contribute to a worsening of the current account during this period.
High annual growth since 2004 was sustained in 2011, though predicted to be at a slower rate in 2012 and 2013. Ethiopia will still be among the fastest growing non-oil producing economies in Africa.
Macroeconomic challenges have, however, given rise to high and persistent inflation. An expansionary monetary policy has been one of the main culprits and a tighter monetary policy represents a bid to bring inflation down to single digits. The five-year Growth and Transformation Plan, which aims to foster high and broad-based growth, is expected to expand employment opportunities by emphasizing the development of small and medium-scale industries.
Significant progress towards the MDGs has nonetheless so far failed to generate adequate employment opportunities for the youth.