- A Decade of Ethiopia: Politics, Economy and Society, 2004–2016 by Abbink, Jon
In Jon Abbink’s A Decade of Ethiopia, readers benefit from an enlightening overview of how the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, has experienced a decade of significant economic change and political contestation since 2004. The introductory chapter shows that less than a decade saw “the emergence of Ethiopia as a (self-designated) ‘developmental state,’ for a large part defined and shaped by the ideas and policies of the late Prime Minister and ruling EPRDF party leader Meles Zenawi, who died in August 2012” (p. 1). Abbink, who serves as a researcher at the African Studies Center in Leiden and a research professor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, points out that many donor countries regard Ethiopia, because of its economic dynamics and geographical location, “more or less ‘too big to fail’” (p. 1). Despite that positive-sounding note, Ethiopia “has indeed its political problems and dilemmas” (pp. 1–2).
This monograph, which originated as a country chapter in The Africa Yearbook, covers, for each year from 2004 to 2016, such topics as domestic politics, foreign affairs, and socioeconomic developments. A striking report in A Decade of Ethiopia, covering socioeconomic development for 2016, is that remittances “by overseas Ethiopians—both declared and undeclared— amounted to $3.4 billion, much more than annual export revenues, and again showing the developed world’s extra impetus to the country’s economy” (p. 241). Most Ethiopian economic figures for that year “confirmed the picture of a skewed, externally dependent economy that lacked sufficient export revenue-generating capacity and was propped up by remittances from the Ethiopian diaspora, donor aid money, and loans, particularly from China” (p. 242). [End Page 102]
Despite the sober reflection on the economy, Ethiopia’s “population growth remained at a high 2.7%, and the total population, according to the UN Population Division, [was] reaching 101 m., though other sources put it some 5–6 m. lower” (p. 242), albeit with a rapidly dwindling agrarian and natural-resource base. “Contraband and illegal economic practices were on the increase, among them human trafficking, and smuggling or illegal sales of wildlife products” (p. 243).
Three pages are devoted to further reading materials. Indeed, A Decade of Ethiopia can be of tremendous benefit to experts on the Horn of Africa, as well as to college-level students and general readers.