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Paradox is the hallmark of Ethiopia’s economic stride. In the past decade or so, Ethiopian development planners have been grappling with a nagging problem; which is keeping the delicate balance between speedy growth and sustainability. While obsessed with changing the poverty narrative of the nation and achieving middle income status in a few years, the EPRDF-led developmental state has always been challenged by the sustainability of the development project it is leading.
To be fair, this obsession, a sense of urgency is predicated on the understanding that Ethiopia could not afford to wait decades for economic progress; since the political stability and in extreme cases, the territorial integrity of the nation could well be dependent on this speedy economic recovery. The hard truth is that there will always be a trade-off between fast growth and sustainability. And Ethiopian development projects are criticized for severely compromising sustainability. This is expressed in terms of low quality, durability and neglected local capacity, according to commentators.
While it is difficult to ascertain some of these assertions, Ethiopia has been on track to realize fast economic growth and development. And on the forefront of this growth narrative is the massive infrastructure push by the government.
Power, road, telecom, railway and industrial park facilities are largely the emblems of this development project. The nation and its capital are by far the most changing and evolving in the sub-Saharan region, today.
In the process, construction is becoming one of the biggest and promising sectors in Ethiopia. It alone employs some 5000 contractors; and thousands of workers in the labor force. According to some estimates, so far, Ethiopia has poured some 1.3 trillion birr in to the construction of massive infrastructure projects.