Today: July 23, 2024

Ethiopia Needs Long-term National Development Plan (Part Eight, Showcase Projects)

June 12, 2024

Tsegaye Tegenu, PhD

A long-term national development plan is structured in a sequential manner, encompassing vision, goals, objectives, and strategies. A vision statement outlines the desired long-term future state of the country. It is aspirational and sets the overarching direction and ambition. The vision serves as a guiding star, inspiring and motivating stakeholders by providing a clear picture of what the country aims to achieve in the long run.

Goals are broad, general statements that describe what the vision aims to accomplish. They break down the vision into more specific areas of focus. Goals provide a framework for organizing and prioritizing development efforts. They represent the major outcomes that need to be achieved to realize the vision.

Objectives are specific, measurable steps that need to be taken to achieve the goals. They are time-bound and provide a clear target for efforts. Objectives translate the broad goals into actionable and quantifiable targets, allowing for progress tracking and accountability.

Strategies are plans of action designed to achieve the objectives. They outline how resources will be used and what interventions will be undertaken. Strategies provide the roadmap for achieving the objectives. They align resources, policies, and actions to ensure coordinated and effective implementation.

By systematically moving from vision to goals, then to objectives, and finally to strategies, the plan creates a coherent and comprehensive roadmap for national development. In Part seven we have discussed the vision formulation of a long-term national development plan, taking the example of the ten-year development plan. It is stated that “The ten-year development plan lays a long-term vision of making Ethiopia an ‘African Beacon of Prosperity.’

Following the structure and sequences of a long-term national development plan, I was expecting that the ten-year development plan moves from vision “African Beacon of Prosperity” to a discussion of goals. Unfortunately, the ten-year development plan does not break the vision into goals or key focus areas that need to be addressed to make the vision a reality. It just jumps to mentioning objectives without first establishing clear goals. See Ten Years Development Plan. Apath to Prosperity 2021-2030. Page 19.

Skipping the establishment of goals in a national development plan undermines the foundation necessary for coherent, efficient, and effective planning and implementation. Objectives without overarching goals lack context. Stakeholders might struggle to understand the broader purpose and direction of the plan. Without goals to unify the objectives, efforts can become fragmented, leading to disjointed and uncoordinated actions. Goals also help prioritize areas that need the most attention and resources. Without them, resources might be allocated inefficiently, focusing on less critical areas. Unfortunately, the ten-year development plan does not identify and specify the goals of the vision.

The vision to make Ethiopia “an African Beacon of Prosperity”, aims to establish the country as a leading example in Africa. This vision seeks to position the country as a model of success and prosperity within the African continent. This outward looking vision is seeking global and regional influence and attention. According to my assumptions and projections, a vision that seeks to position the country as a model of prosperity and progress in Africa can have the following goals:

Goal 1: Achieve high and sustainable economic growth rates that elevate the country’s GDP.

Goal 2: Substantially improve the standard of living and quality of life for all citizens.

Goal 3: Transform the economy from an agrarian-based to a diversified and industrialized economy.

Goal 4: Improve the country’s ranking in global competitiveness indices.

Goal 5: Ensure that economic growth is inclusive and benefits all segments of society.

Goal 6: Establish strong, transparent, and accountable institutions that uphold the rule of law.

Goal 7: Position the country as a leader in regional cooperation and integration.

Goal 8: Develop a highly skilled and educated workforce.

Goal 9: Foster social cohesion and ensure internal peace and stability.

These goals are expected from a vision of making “Ethiopia an African Beacon of Prosperity”. But these goals are not stated in the ten-year development plan. These are ambitious goals which cannot realistically achievable due to various constraints, which is beyond the scope of this short article to go into the details. Because these goals are not achievable, the government probably turned to focus on showcase projects as we have observed in the past five years.

Showcase projects are high-profile initiatives designed to demonstrate progress and attract attention. The have different purposes. One purpose may be to attract investment. By creating impressive projects, a country can draw foreign investment and tourism. Another purpose can be political gains. Showcase projects can be used to bolster political support and demonstrate government effectiveness. The projects can also be used to get international prestige and enhance the government’s international image and reputation.

There are two types of showcase projects: large-scale and small-scale. Large-scale projects often require significant investment, longer timeframes, and have broader impacts. They aim to put a country on the global map. Examples of large-scale showcase projects is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, which is the tallest building in the world, symbolizing the rapid development and ambition of Dubai. Another example is the Beijing 2008 Olympics, Brazil 2014 World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympics to host major international events. The Delhi Metro in India is another example of showcase project of mass transit systems.

Small-scale projects, while less costly, symbolize community development and can be implemented more quickly to improve the living conditions local people. Small-scale projects usually require fewer resources and can be more easily replicated. Examples of small-scale showcase projects include green spaces in urban areas (in Addis Abeba), establishing education and training centers, community health centers, local infrastructure improvements (Addis Ababa’s Corridor Development Project), and restoration of tourism and cultural heritage projects (such as Lalibela churches).

Showcase projects initiatives, whether large or small scale, designed to demonstrate progress and attract attention, have limitations. First, they have short-term focus, often prioritizing immediate, visible results over long-term, sustainable development. They can divert resources from more critical but less visible needs, such as industrialization led-structural transformation of the economy. They have also a limited impact. While they may improve the country or the local image, they do not significantly impact the broader population or address the underlying causes of recurrent problems facing the country. To continue to symbolize development efforts, show case projects require significant ongoing maintenance, and this can strain future budgets.

Compared to industrialization-led manufacturing projects, showcase projects offer only short-term economic boosts. Manufacturing projects, on the other hand, have a more substantial and sustainable impact on long-term economic development. They drive sustained economic growth, industrialization, and job creation. Unlike showcase projects, manufacturing projects are not immediately visible but are the result of long-term efforts, a thorough understanding of underlying causes, and the proper design of strategies and policies based on long-term perspectives. They require patience, strategic thinking, and continuous capabilities of all kinds.




  1. My dear brother hit it home for me with this one:
    ‘Manufacturing projects, on the other hand, have a more substantial and sustainable impact on long-term economic development. They drive sustained economic growth, industrialization, and job creation.’
    It almost sent me into a trance, man!

    Those of us who still care for the peoples who produced us all would like the current conundrum that caused so many deaths, destruction and displacements to end somehow and know how. We dream its end once and for all day and night. Let’s assume it ends a week, month or Allah forbids, a year from now. If it ends that means tens even hundreds of thousands of former rebels will go home or gather up in cities and towns. Then, you will ask the cardinal question. What awaits them to keep them busy and making a peaceful living? Toss some bones at them to make sure they are fed and clothed? But for how long? That has proven to be not sustainable in every continent before, especially after WWI and WWII. Reconstruction of factories and infrastructures provided steady jobs that provided sustainable income. Who will forget the Marshall Plan? Both Ethiopia and Somalia are in the best positions to go that route. Both have huge size of infrastructure to rebuild the destroyed and construct new ones. By hook or crook materials needed should be made at home which necessitates to opening of so many factories. I will keep elaborating on that one in the next pow wow.

    Keep plugging away, tiger!!! And don’t be distracted by loser truants.

  2. Thank you dear Ittu Aba Farda. Your description of the future after the end of the conflict is a good warning to policy-makers. What will happen to all demobilized soldiers? In Tigray, according to a recent study by the youth association of the region, 81 percent of the youth is currently unemployed, and about 40% of them would like to outmigrate. This has happened right just after the war. The same will happen in the regions of Amhara and Oromia.

    • Yes sir! If there is nothing awaits those returning to society from years in the bushes, the country will definitely run into another rush of violence. That is what exactly happening in certain central and Latin American countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. It has already happening in the old country. My relatives in the capital who are merchants told me certain parts of Tigray has turned into a lawless Wild West territory. Law and order has completely broken down with a series rush of kidnapping and hostage taking for ransom. The youth that used to tinker with AK47 as his smart phone now has nothing else to get him preoccupied. He has turned the barrels of his gun on his own countrymen. Working at factories would have transformed him in a way any rehabbing sessions would not do in million years. Working at factories and making even a modest living would enable him to understand how the modern world was/is being made. He would not need anybody else to give him the answers to how, why and what questions he may have but he can answer them himself. It is inherent in them that factories will liberate women and that will bring the hopelessly exploding population to a screeching halt faster than just promoting condoms and pills can do in decades. The proof is in the pudding in South Korea, Taiwan, Chile and across Europe.

      Keep gracing us with your well thought out articles, brother. You and Brother Dr. Suleiman are the main reason I have been coming back to this esteemed website. It is like an addiction and I will need my weekly fix with articles from both of you. As I
      I said before don’t be distracted by loser truants. They are the ones who end up with stinking dragon breaths.

    • Dear Brother Obbo Tsegaye Tegenu, PhD,

      It is evident in the old country what the absence of a well thought out plan would do to countries when the size of the population keep exploding. When I left that country more than seven decades ago its population was less than 25 million. Now it is estimated to be more than 130 million and by 2050, just a mere 25 years from now, it is projected to surpass 230 million. As you stated more than 80% of the working age of the population is virtually unemployed providing a cannon fodder for bigots and connivers. The majority of the youth is literate, meaning it has the required education to be an efficient factory worker or a qualified employee in a service economy sector. It can be easily trained. I am speaking for experience. When we set up our first factory in Guangdong province in Dongguan vicinity, all they had was a factory shade and a good supply of unemployed youth. Our intermediaries were from Hong Kong who spoke fluent English, Cantonese and Mandarin. The machinery was ours we took with us. I had to train every young Chinese both males and females in how to operate the fabricating equipment from scratch. I had to repeat myself several times until it sank in with every trainee. It took almost 3 months before products started trickling out of the factory. What was our old country was doing during that time? Mengistu at the helm, it was all creating the fantasy land of socialism. You can imagine how I was seething inside in anger realizing I was not training my old country’s young men and women in mastering the skills of making products at factories. What Deng saw coming straight at him then was more than 500 million unemployed educated youth ready to devour him alive. He came up with a plan that included carving out the entire Guangdong province as a special economic zone. That kept the youth preoccupied with working at factories. More than 42 years later, commies China has become what it is today. If that was our old country, I guarantee you that it would not take half the time it took me to train those Chinese workers to train my countrymen/women. But that was not to be. Commies were running that gem of the colored and ran it to the ground. Even now it is not out of the woods yet. Commies are already gone leaving behind deadly bigots and connivers. The cycle goes on.

      Thank you brother for keeping your articles clean of using terms like ‘Woyane, Neftegna and Oromummaa’ as pejoratives to denigrate others. Keep writing!
      Blessings to you and your family.

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Ethiopia Needs Long-term National Development Plan (Part Seven)
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Ethiopia Needs Long-term National Development Plan (Part Seven)

Ethiopia Needs Long-term National Development Plan (Part Nine, Objectives of Ten-Year Plan)
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