HaileMariam Desalegn Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a sovereign landlocked country located at the north-eastern part of Africa (the horn of Africa) covering a total land area of about 1,100,000sq.km with a population of about 92 million people (the second most populous country in Africa today). Ethiopia’s population growth rate hovers around 3.6%. Ethiopia borders the Republic of Kenya to the south, the Republic of Eritrea to the north (Eritrea's separation made Ethiopia a landlocked country), the Republic of Sudan to the west, and the Republics of Djibouti and Somalia to the east.

Ethiopia is unique in so many ways. Ethiopia was able to survive the late 19th-century “Scramble for Africa” thanks to its uniquely successful military resistance. Ethiopia made history by becoming the only African country to defeat a European colonial power and retain its sovereignty. Also, Ethiopia was the first independent African member of the 20th-century League of Nations and the United Nations.

Ethiopia is blessed with abundance of natural resources including gold, potash, unexploited natural gas or methane, copper, platinum, etc.

Ethiopia has seen great improvements in several sectors of its economy especially in the areas of infrastructure these past couple of years thanks to the great Chinese investment in this part of Africa and also to the intense government projects aimed at achieving its Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) of attaining middle income status by 2025. Between 2013 and 2014, Ethiopia's GDP growth was around 10.6%. Kenya grew only 4.8% this same period while Rwanda which has been a very stellar performer did only 7.9%. This is great news to investors and shows Ethiopia is on course. According to the World Bank Group's latest poverty assessment, poverty in Ethiopia fell from 44 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2011 which translated to a 33 percent reduction in the share of people living in poverty.

Despite these great achievements, at least 37 million Ethiopians continue to wallow in poverty and according to recent world bank statistics, the poorest in Ethiopia have become even poorer in the sense that, the high food prices that improves income for many farmers, also makes buying food more challenging for the poorest especially those in the rural areas. In other words, although more farmers are making good incomes from their farm produce, many people in Ethiopia today are unable to afford basic necessities like food due to the high prices.

Since Ethiopia's economy depends mostly on agriculture (about 45 to 50% of GDP), natural causes such as drought and sometimes unpredictable flooding put the entire economy of Ethiopia in a very bad shape and leave many starving.

Illiteracy is another major reason why Ethiopia wallows in poverty. Ethiopian leaders today do not pay much attention to education. Ethiopia has a lliteracy rate of 49% with the female literacy rate hovering around 41%. This implies only about 41% of the total female population of Ethiopia above age 15 can read and write which is very bad compared to neighboring countries like Kenya.

Due to extreme poverty and hunger, most children of school going age are out of school and most are forced into child marriage, child labor, child trafficking and most recently, child prostitution. Most children in Ethiopia are forced into petty trading especially along the major streets of big cities such as Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia with a population of about 5 million people), Dire Dawa, Adama or Nazret, Gondar, Dese or Dessie, Mek'ele, Jimma and Bahir Dar.

Coffee which is very critical to the Ethiopian economy (with exports around $400 million dollars a year) sometimes meet low prices on the international market which puts the entire Ethiopian economy in a very shaky state.

Environmental issues such as water pollution (as a result of agricultural and industrial runoffs, etc.), land degradation which often leads to desertification, poor climatic conditions (including severe droughts), etc. continue to threaten several lives in Ethiopia today.

Poor governance and corruption are major problems in almost all African countries. Most political figures in Ethiopia today are very corrupt with little or no experience at all. Poor governance, corruption, political instability, etc., also drive investors away.

Another major problem facing Ethiopia today is the systematic marginalization and persecution of certain ethnic groups caused mainly by poor government policies. The nationwide protests by the OROMO people, the single largest ethnic group in both Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, is a clear example of the atmosphere this systematic marginalization and failed government policies have created in Ethiopia today. Unfortunately, Ethiopia's corrupt government and the international community, fail to acknowledge the simple fact that Ethiopia is facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude.