Democracy and the Future of Ethiopia’s Developmental State

06.30.2019 | Getachew Teklemariam, Naomi Sand

White Paper – Democracy and the Future of Ethiopia’s Developmental State

Keynote Transcript – Francis Fukuyama

Since Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018, Ethiopia has seen an unprecedented wave of political reforms. 

On the heels of widespread unrest and a national state of emergency, the newly widening political arena ushered in concrete results, including peace with neighboring Eritrea, the release of political prisoners, the repeal of restrictive media and civil society laws, and the return of exiled political opposition parties.

Despite these gains, there has been little shared with the public about the future of Ethiopia’s economic model and how it will deliver for a new generation of leaders. Following years of a “democratic developmental state” model – an economic and political approach that prioritizes centrally coordinated, top-down industrial transformation – the current social and political upheaval raises questions about the future of Ethiopia’s economic model and the long-term policy framework that will be needed to sustain it.  

In June 2019, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) co-hosted a one-day conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia alongside the Forum for Social Studies (FSS) on the theme of “Democracy and the Future of Ethiopia’s Developmental State.”  This conference set out to examine the new administration’s economic vision, bringing together government officials, private sector representatives, civil society organizations, and academics to better understand the complexities of Ethiopia’s new political economy. Conference sessions examined critical questions on the central motivationsorganizing principlesmodes of operationand imagined futures of Ethiopias new developmental vision. 

Keynote Address: 

The conference’s keynote address was given by Professor Francis Fukuyama (PhD) and focused on assessing international successes and pitfalls implementing a developmental state model. Professor Fukuyama also provided key areas where Ethiopia will need to center its attention during the rapidly evolving political and economic situation to maximize its developmental potential. The full transcript of the keynote address can be downloaded here.  

Conference Outcomes White Paper: 

A Conference Outcomes White Paper can be downloaded here. This white paper addresses the main takeaways and outcomes from the conference, highlighting tangible recommendations from the conference panels, breakout sessions, and keynote address.

Key themes covered include evaluating the Ethiopian developmental state, analyzing the role of money in politics, public participation in development, Ethiopia’s current economic reality, innovation and youth engagement, and a look at ways to sustain growth and reform efforts in the future. In alignment with the goals of this conference, this white paper works to kickstart a broader and more inclusive conversation about the future of Ethiopia’s developmental path.   

Since the conference in June 2019, CIPE has continued to engage with Ethiopia’s new generation of change makers and reformers, with its Addis Ababa-based office operating as a hub for collaboration, mentorship, and knowledge-sharing. CIPE’s work in Ethiopia has also enabled this conversation to move outside of the capital and reach a more inclusive audience eager to participate in Ethiopia’s economic future. CIPE’s focus on creating spaces like the June 2019 conference for a wide array of voices to engage in policy debate and reform continue to open the doors for an economic and political outlook that is reflective of the needs of Ethiopia’s diverse makeup.