ETHIOPIA, the land of Emperor Haile Selassie, is a land of many lands and a kingdom of many kingdoms. Ethiopia is now a landlocked country located at the north-eastern part of Africa (the horn of Africa).
Ethiopia follows Nigeria (about 178 million people) as the second most populous country in all of Africa with a population of about 92 million people with the population growth rate around 3.6%.
Ethiopia shares borders with the Republic of Kenya to the south, the Republic of Eritrea to the North (Eritrea used to be part of Ethiopia. The separation made Ethiopia a landlocked country), the Republic of Sudan to the West, and the Republics of Djibouti and Somalia to the East. Ethiopia has a total land area of about 1,100,000 squared kilometers.
Ethiopia is blessed with abundance of natural resources such as gold, Potash, unexploited natural gas or Methane, copper and platinum. Meanwhile, Ethiopia has the second largest poor population in Africa and it is the second poorest country in the world according to the New UNDP Human Development Multidimensional Poverty Index.
According to the New Poverty Index, about 90% of the total Ethiopian population live below poverty line with about 62% deprived of adequate schooling. Ethiopia has a very rich history and a beautiful blend of several cultures of people of all colors and races. Ethiopia is the only African country never been colonized yet the long years of poor governance, corruption, unequal distribution of funds, etc. have crippled Ethiopia’s economy to the point where people continue to die from extreme poverty and hunger.
Ethiopia like its neighboring countries suffers a great deal from natural challenges such as drought and unpredictable flooding. Just like Niger (the poorest country in the world according to the multidimensional poverty index), the majority of the Ethiopian population are poor subsistence farmers who grow crops and rear animals just to feed themselves and their families.
Since Ethiopia’s economy depends mostly on agriculture (about 45 to 50% of GDP), natural causes such as drought and sometimes unpredictable flooding put the entire economy of Ethiopia in a very bad shape and leave many starving.
Illiteracy is another major reason why Ethiopia wallows in poverty. Ethiopian leaders today do not pay much attention to education. Ethiopia has a literacy rate of 42.7% which implies only about 42.7% of the total population of Ethiopia above age 15 can read and write. This literacy rate is very bad compared to countries like Eritrea (a neighboring country).
Due to extreme poverty and hunger, most children of school going age are out of school and most are forced into child labor, child trafficking and most recently, child prostitution. Most children in Ethiopia are forced into petty trading especially along the major streets of big cities such as Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia with a population of about 5 million people), Dire Dawa, Adama or Nazret, Gondar, Dese or Dessie, Mek’ele, Jimma and Bahir Dar.
Coffee which is very critical to the Ethiopian economy (with exports around $400 million dollars a year) sometimes meet low prices on the international market which puts the entire Ethiopian economy in a very bad shape.
Poor governance and corruption are major problems in almost all African countries. Most political figures in Ethiopia today are very corrupt with little or no experience at all. Poor governance and political instability in Ethiopia also drives investors away. The war with Eritrea a neighboring country (1998-2000 with the loss of about 80,000 lives) for example, crippled the entire Ethiopian economy and drove many investors away.
However, Since the end of the war with Eritrea in 2000, Ethiopia has seen significant improvement in its agricultural and other sectors of the economy. Meanwhile poor governance and corruption continue to tear the great Ethiopia into pieces.