Ethiopia is set on soon becoming Africa’s fastest growing economy and its success can be credited to the government’s investments in irrigation. Averaging a 10% economic growth every year between 2004 and 2014, Ethiopia has big plans for the future. Its government aims to achieve middle-income status (gross-national income of at least US$1006 per capita) by 2025. According to the World Bank, the current per capita income in Ethiopia is US$783 (Forbes Africa).
Forbes Africa lists 2 key factors that spurted Ethiopia’s growth spurt:
- The prioritization of agriculture as a key contributor to development
- The fast-paced adoption of new technologies to boost the sector.
A third of Ethiopia’s GDP is generated through agriculture, and more than 12 million households rely on small-scale farming for their livelihoods (Forbes Africa).
Ethiopia’s investment in irrigation has been central to its growth in agriculture and hence the economy. According to Forbes, irrigated area in the country increased by nearly 52% between 2002 and 2014, making it the fastest growth in irrigation in any African country (Forbes Africa).
Farmers who traditionally relied on rainfall dreaded dry-season until the government’s investments in irrigation brought them improved soil fertility. Habebo Elermo, a farmer in Ziway, Ethiopia remembers how he and the other farmers in his area would travel 180km to get cereals to feed their families in the dry-season. Small-scale irrigation has not only made him more productive, it has also brought more wealth to his family as he can count on irrigation to water his crops when rain is absent (Dry-season irrigation in Ethiopia: Changing lives in every way)
Only 6% of cultivable land is irrigated in Africa. Ethiopia is currently one of the few countries (among Kenya, Mali, Morocco, Niger and South Africa) to focus on irrigation and benefit economically from it (Forbes Africa). It serves as a role model to other African countries looking to expand their agricultural sector and increase their GDP.
African Women Plucking Tea Leaves On Plantation East Africa Photography. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2019, from https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/ethiopian-farming?mediatype=photography&phrase=ethiopian farming&sort=mostpopular
How Investment in Irrigation Is Paying Off for Ethiopia’s Economy. (2019, January 21). Retrieved January 22, 2019, from https://www.forbesafrica.com/agriculture/2019/01/21/how-investment-in-irrigation-is-paying-off-for-ethiopias-economy/
Iwmimedia. (2017, May 29). Dry-season irrigation in Ethiopia: Changing lives in every way. Retrieved January 22, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwisrdlGivA