The world was shaken by images of Ethiopian famine back in 1984, yet since then the country has achieved a remarkable turnaround to become one of Africa’s economic success stories in the volatile Horn of Africa.
Since 2005, it has achieved double-digit annual GDP growth according to some estimates, while the 8 percent preferred by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and some Western analysts is still more than respectable.
The speed of change is illustrated by the exponential rise in Ethiopia’s GDP. In 2000 it was $8.2 billion, growing to just over $43 billion by 2012 before nearly doubling to $80 billion by 2017, according to the IMF. By 2023, it is forecast to reach $129 billion.
Foreign investment piled in as Ethiopia emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing economies, while social and economic indices improved faster than anywhere else in Africa (albeit from a low base). But despite all this, at the end of 2015 protests broke out within the country’s Oromia region, home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo.
As protests continued into 2016 and beyond – in February this year the country declared a second state of emergency coupled with the prime minister resigning – the country saw its hard-won reputation as an East African stalwart of stability and business opportunity badly shaken.