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Economic Strategic Vision Roadmap for Ethiopia: Part Four 

Tsegaye Tegenu, PhD


This part discusses steps two and four of the Economic Strategic Vision Roadmap making, namely vision and mission formations. What are the vision and missions of the roadmap document that I am trying to share with you?

A vision is a statement or description of a desired future state or outcome that provides direction, motivation, and a sense of purpose. It helps paint a mental image of how you want to see the country in the future. Vision is what you want to accomplish in the future.

A well-crafted vision helps to formulate the goals you want to reach, serves as a compass, set priorities, make decisions, mobilize people, and align strategies and policies. To realize these advantageous, vision should be specific, realistic, and achievable, even if it represents a long-term or aspirational goal.

In the case of economic situation analysis, vision formulation can differ depending on the goals, motivations and objectives of the leaders and policy makers. Visions can be crafted for political or public relations purposes. Vision statements may be based on high-level aspirations rather than root cause analysis and a deep understanding of the challenges at hand. Vision statements can sometimes prioritize short-term gains or political objectives over long-term, sustainable growth and development. This can result in statements that are more about immediate popularity or electoral appeal.

In the case of a country where there is chronic poverty, macroeconomic and political instability, a well-crafted vision statement should be grounded or influenced by root cause analysis (see part three). Vision should not be only a sense of purpose and direction. It should also consider factors that influence the goals and reflect the country’s strategic response to persistent economic challenges and opportunities.

The Ethiopian Government has a Ten-Years Development Plan, which has a vison to make Ethiopia an “African Beacon of Prosperity” by 2030. This vision statement conveys a clear and aspirational goal for Ethiopia’s future development and position in Africa. The term “African Beacon” suggests that Ethiopia aspires to become a shining example or a guiding light within the African continent. The term “Prosperity” denotes economic and social well-being of the people.

This vision statement of the Government indicates Ethiopia’s commitment to achieving significant economic and social progress, not just for itself but also as a model for other African nations to follow. It expresses a desire for Ethiopia to become a symbol of success and prosperity on the African continent, showcasing what can be achieved through development, innovation, and effective governance.

Is this vision a result of root cause analysis of the economic situation of the country or a search for political support and public relationship? Is the motive to be popular in Africa or solve chronic economic problems of the country by providing detailed long-term plan. I will leave the questions for you to answer.

As I have said vision statements influence choice of goals, strategies and policies. To be popular, the Government may choose strategy of developing the traditional service sector rather than manufacturing-led structural transformation. It is well known that the traditional service sector (hotels, restaurants, community, social and personal services) can employe more labor but does not increase per capita income.

Traditional service goods are intangible (involve more face-to-face interactions in their delivery) and do not use technology, capital intensity, labor skill, and scale economies to increase productivity. Traditional service sector has weaker productivity levels and growth rates than manufacturing. Vision of promoting the traditional service sector does not reflect and address the underlying root causes of economic challenges facing the country. For further comments see “Reflection on the Ten-Year National Economic Plan”.

Why the government focus on traditional service sector as a development means? We know already that the industrial parks are facing a number of hurdles: quality and shortage skill labor, power failure and water supply interruptions, poor custom and work permit procedures, shortage of local industrial inputs, underdeveloped agricultural sector, shortage of foreign currency, inflation in production costs, poor logistic services, poor co-ordination and communication problems among responsible government authorities, weak domestic linkages, backward and forward linkages, illegal transfer pricing, high cost of entry and exit from business, lack of production facilities, and political instability.

Vision matters for the choice, direction and evaluation of economic policies. The question is what is the perfect vision for the country? I have tried to formulate an alternative vision by summarizing the multidimensional effects of exponential population growth applying the properties of size, structure and space (see the effect part of the fishbone diagram in Part Three).

Size refers to the quantity and quality of resource scarcity, economic shortages and the kind of economic stress and strain it creates as the population continues to grow. Structure refers to the internal composition of the economic activities and their arrangement as the population pressure increases. Space refers to the characteristics, position, location, distribution of the economic activities and the relationship to their environment.

Since the start of rapid population growth (late 1980s), the country is experiencing resource scarcity and transformation traps (both structural and spatial). This phenomenon will persist as the population continues to grow. I see an urgent need of creating superabundant resources to cover the needs and demands of a growing population.

My vision statement reads as follows: “To create an economy in Ethiopia that prioritizes self-reliance, transformation, and creation of abundant resources to ensure the needs and demands of 140 million people, and provision of limitless opportunities for the growth and development of every individual.”

As you can see my vision does not search for popularity among African countries. It is about a creation of post-scarcity economy. In economics, the idea of post-scarcity is related to the concept of superabundance, in which the production of goods and services can meet the needs and demands of the population without the presence of scarcity or shortage. In a post-scarcity economy, resources are so plentiful, and production is so efficient that everyone’s basic needs can be met, and there is a surplus of goods and services for all. I have 140 million people (not African countries) on my mind when formulating the vision statement.

My vision statement combines ambition with practicality by emphasizing self-reliance, transformation (both structural and spatial) and resource abundance, while keeping the well-being and opportunities of citizens at the forefront.

My vision statemen describes long-term aspirations and a desired future, covering a generation, an average period of 20-25 years. As I have said, vision helps to formulate goals and identify strategies. But there is a question why people of the country should look too far into the desired future. People need justification to keep them on track. Vision needs a mission statement which explains what people do, for whom they do it, and why they do it.

In the ten years development plan, creating prosperity is considered as the objective of the long-term plan. Prosperity is defined in terms of “overall human and institutional capability” and it includes, improvement in income levels, provision of basic economic and social services, enabling environment and social freedom.

There is still a fundamental question: prosperity for whom, for members of the ruling party or for the ordinary people? In the case of Ethiopia, where there is a fast population growth, a vision can only be successful if it is driven by people-centered and place-based (territorial development) objectives.

I have considered population growth pressure forces (multiplication of child-rich households, labor force growth and internal migration-led urbanization) to formulate the mission statements. The missions of the long-term planning include: i) job creation for the unemployed, ii) income growth for those employed, iii) local economic transformation (cities, towns, and rural areas), and iv) increasing universal coverage of basic services.

In summary, a mission statement defines the Government annual planning purpose and activities, while a vision statement outlines its long-term aspirations and goals. Vision and purpose complement each other and help guide Government’s strategy and policy choices and decision-making. In the forthcoming part I will discuss vision goals and strategies.



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