Friday, October 05, 2007

Coffee, Colonialism and Capitalism; Introduction to African Crisis - Part 2

Part 2. Poverty and Underdevelopment in ‘Ethiopia’

The dismal economic performance of ‘Ethiopia’ with GNI per capita of about US$152 in 2005 puts the country at the bottom of the Least Developed Countries of the world (the fourth world). As a result, poverty in ‘Ethiopia’ is rampant. According to BBC World Service (Feb 2007), 81% of ‘Ethiopian’ population is living below the poverty line of US $2 a day. With the ‘Ethiopian’ current population being about 78 million, this means that over 63 million ‘Ethiopians’ live below poverty line.

At the beginning of the 21st century, we witness an increase in global poverty and hunger along side unprecedented affluence among nations and individuals implying an ever increasing disparity between nations and with in various regions of a nation. The fact that the Microsoft tycoon Bill Gate’s net worth is 5 times as big as ‘Ethiopian’ 2005 annual Gross National Income (GNI) of $11.1 billion US dollars at current prices (World Bank, 2005) is a vivid depiction of not only how the country has failed in terms of economic achievement during the past century but also the alarming disparity between individuals and countries in the developed world and individuals and countries in the LDCs.

The rest of the African countries blame colonialism for their underdevelopment. However, ‘Ethiopia’ has been praised as the only African country that resisted western colonialism. Then why is ‘Ethiopia’ at the bottom of the fourth world? ‘Ethiopia’ has no one to blame for its unprecedented development disaster except for successive archaic feudal and totalitarian political leaderships.

Archaic monarchical rule and rapacious feudalism that lasted for over half a century kept the country under perpetual darkness while the rest of the world was moving forward with lightening speed. Neither the 1974 revolution nor the 1991 TPLF take over of the political power in the country brought any fundamental changes on political organizations and economic management in the country. The socialist regime wasted 17 years of opportunity for economic revival of the country. Like its predecessors, the current regime managed to cling to political power for over 16 years with out any improvement in economic lives of the majority of the peoples in the country. In fact poverty, hunger and famine are now embodied into the very structure of the ‘Ethiopian’ economy.

A decade and a half is not a short time to harness the resources of the country towards the path of sustainable growth and development. On the contrary, the current leadership is preoccupied with maintaining its political power at the cost of economic nightmare. Time and resources are wasted on repressions of democratic freedom and human rights.

Dictatorial and predatory regimes, lack of democratic freedom and human rights, lack of recognition of the rights of various ethnic groups in the country, inappropriate value systems of the societies’ of the ruling elites, absence of the rule of law, absence of property rights and institutions that support free enterprise under the current and previous ‘Ethiopian’ regimes are solely responsible for continued underdevelopment and abject poverty of the majority of the citizens of this country.

The Sidama province located in the southern part of the country is endowed with abundant natural resources. However, under the current ‘Ethiopian’ political organization, the Sidama region has deteriorated from self sustained traditional economic system into an economic disaster where hunger and famine have become the order of the day.

American Chronicle: Coffee, Colonialism and Capitalism; Introduction to African Crisis