Consider any indicator of development, be it economic, political, health, educational, and/or technological. You will find Ethiopia at the bottom of the list, sometimes outachieved even by Somalia and Eritrea. Not least worrisome is the exodus of Ethiopians to foreign lands. Journalists, politicians, academics, the youth, and even seniors are turning their backs to their country. Education and work are becoming more and more incompatible in Ethiopia. The cost of living and the rate of inflation are mind boggling. It is becoming hard to get independent and critical media back home. Ethiopia is also becoming a prison nation. And one could add a lot more problems. Despite all these, I turned to hold an optimistic view about Ethiopia’s future.
My optimism is not without grounds. I could mention a number of justifications in support of my argument but for now, I will mention just a few. The top twelve reasons why I hold a bright future for Ethiopia are the following. This is just my list with which you could or could not agree or remain neutral. My point is not to summon consensus on this issue but to stimulate discussion, at least at a personal level. While or after reading this piece, you are likely to develop your line of argument (optimism, pessimism, or neutralism). Here are my reasons why am optimistic about Ethiopia’s advancement toward growth, development, and genuine democracy.
v The governing party is coming of age; a combination of internal metamorphosis and external pressure could shake up its power base. All the parties that make up EPRDF do not seem in good shape following the sudden death of the master mind. Also several of the old guards in those parties are retiring on age and health grounds. This would encourage better democratic practices that could turn around a lot positive developments both at political and economic levels.
v The opposition politics seem to show interest to work together although forming a strong unity might still seem a dream. If Medrek and other parties keep up the momentum, they could be another Kinjit in the years to come. The least we could expect is that some of the dictators in the opposition will retire because of age and health. The young could have rooms to maneuver.
v The general public is really tired of corruption, nepotism, cost of living, dictatorship, and abuses. This along with the internal change would force the regime to refrain from further mistreatments and could rather try to stand for the people.
v Although foreign investors seem to wage ‘Scramble for Ethiopia’ campaign, the country still has immense natural resources. This along with a large youth and productive adult population could propel change given good governance.
v Nations and nationalities vividly saw, over the last two decades, that excessive focus on ethnicity led them nowhere. They must be quite ready and receptive to genuine democratic governance.
v Ethiopia is one of the countries most affected by braindrain. Countless medical doctors, academics, politicians, journalists, and other intellectuals reside and work in known institutions and organization in the West and lately in Africa. A genuine establishment and practice of democracy or a sizable deterioration of dictatorship back home could attract this human capital that could lift the country up in just no time.
v The other Diaspora could also exploit the opportunity and would make a revolution in the service sector.
v Healthy competition between Diaspora and local Ethiopians could improve productivity in all areas, which then would ensure quality service delivery and dependable consumer behavior.
v A lot Western countries have indicated to tie development aid and loan to crucial preconditions such as the practice of democratic governance and protection of human rights. This could force the government to at least relax their grip on power and lessen violation of human rights.
v The impact of globalization and market principles (e.g. being a member of the World Trade Organization) could force the regime to open up the market for competition and change. This would bring dramatic changes in the areas of technology and innovation.
v The indictment of former dictators and human rights abusers by the International Criminal Court sends shockwaves to all brutal leaderships around the world. This would in addition to the aforementioned factors force leaders to reconsider their governance style. No dictator wants to face travel bans and freezing of well accumulated wealth and asset.
v Ethiopia is a deeply religious country. The God factor should explain much of the variation.