Productive Capacity and Economic Growth in Ethiopia

CDP Background Paper No. 34 

By Admasu Shiferaw

This paper examines the process of building productive capacity in Ethiopia over the past two decades and the roles played by the state, government, the private sector, foreign firms and development partners. Productive capacity is defined broadly as the natural resource potential, accumulation of human capital and the institutions that facilitate inclusive and sustainable economic growth. This process also encompasses the nurturing modern entrepreneurial skills in the private sector and fostering innovation.

The paper starts with an overview of Ethiopia’s economic growth and the change in the domestic economic structure. The manufacturing sector is seen as the success of Ethiopia’s Growth, and its development to a large extent the product of an activist developmental state. The paper then examines growth and diversification of exports and the country’s recent efforts to effectively exploit its natural resources. An analysis of public and private investment and the underlying allocation of financial resources finds that a recent upturn in domestic investment has been financed largely by foreign aid, and that private financing remains too low. Finally, the paper addresses educational attainment, arguing that Ethiopia has some distance to go in its attempts to close the large human capital gap relative to other low-income countries.

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