Is Ethiopia Africa's break-out developmental state?
Since the 1991 victory against the Derg Maoist regime, the Ethiopian government has been trying to replicate and adapt the developmental state approach used in different iterations in Japan, ROK, Taiwan, PRC and Vietnam. This is a stage-based model proceeding from land reform and high-yield household farming to manufacturing development and rapid infrastructure build-out. The policies are conditioned on a significant degree of financial repression at an early stage, with financial sector liberalisation following later. In order to achieve their objectives, Ethiopia's leaders are attempting to manage a transmission of policy-making ideas across continents, similar to what the Meiji Japanese did in the late 19th century. Joe Studwell has just returned from a two-week tour of Ethiopia at the invitation of the central government with a view to benchmarking developmental progress against his experience of east Asia's major economies. The driver for the trip was Joe's last book, How Asia Works, which has been quite widely read by Ethiopian leaders and policy-makers. It was a first trip for Joe, but with high levels of access at central and local levels, and he will provide some early thoughts on the prospects for the Ethiopian developmental dream.