into the sector, a dozen commercial banks now operate in the country including eight privatelyowned banks. The number of microfinance institutions has also increased to 27, and they are playing an important role in poverty alleviation.
Import-Export According to the National Bank of Ethiopia, the country’s exports increased by 18.5% in 2006/07. Further diversification of exports has also shown an encouraging trend. Flower exports continued to grow, reaching $63.6m in 2006/07 compared to $21.8m in the previous year. Export earnings from leather and leather products also grew by 19.4% owing to continued government incentives. Until recently, Ethiopia’s external trade sector was dominated by coffee, hides and skin, live animals, pulses and oil seeds. Realising the need to reduce the shock in terms of trade, the government has placed greater emphasis on export diversification and promotion. For this purpose, a new export development strategy has been adopted. The emphasis is on improving export goods, diversifying into better-value agricultural products while developing labourintensive goods and exploring and developing mineral and fuel deposits. Non-traditional exports are also being encouraged. The country will continue to deepen its efforts at creating a conducive environment to attract investment and ensure that the private sector becomes the engine of economic growth. Its Industrial Development Strategy has identified the textile and garment sectors, and leather and food processing as priority areas for private investment. Understanding that investment in roads is critical to the country’s development, the government has accorded a high priority to road construction. As a result, the network of roads has increased from 18,946km in 1990 to 42,000km. Under an aggressive electrification
programme, the country has also been successful in supplying 22% of the country with power. Likewise, the number of fixed telephone subscribers has increased from 125,398 in 1991 to 881,726 in 2007. The number of mobile phone subscribers has also reached more than 2,000,000. The number of towns with telecoms access have risen from 512 in 1991 to 908 by the middle of 2007. Under an Urban Development Programme, about 61,000 condominium-housing units have been under construction in 35 cities and towns, since 2006. In addition, preparations are far advanced to launch the construction of 85,045 housing units in the current fiscal year. While non-agricultural sectors are absorbing a huge number of workers, 408,522 jobs have been created through support given to micro and small-scale enterprises since 2006/7. Between 60% and 65% of the beneficiaries in this sector are women; and about 70% involved in the subsector are young people between the age of 16 and 30. Ethiopia’s socio-economic indicators have also improved greatly. The gross primary school enrolment has grown from 19% in 1991 to 91.3% in 2007. The health service coverage that was 38% in 1991 has reached 98.1%. Activities are under way to achieve 100% coverage in the next two years. The number of hospitals is up from 72 in 1991 to 143 at the end of 2007. Under an on-going health extension programme, in the first 30 months a total of 10,709 health posts were established and a total of 24,534 female health extension professionals assigned posts. In 1991, there were just 153 health centres; this rose to 690 last year. At the beginning of the new Ethiopian millennium, the country has embarked on a rapid modernisation process. It wants to root out poverty and all forms of backwardness. Given recent trends, Ethiopia’s renaissance is achievable. The celebration of the millennium will symbolise a passage to a prosperous and democratic Ethiopia – a portal to its renaissance.
cElEbratE thE futurE As Prime Minister Meles Zenawi (left) pointed out in his speech on the eve of the beginning of the millennium celebrations: “A thousand years from now when Ethiopians gather to welcome the fourth millennium, they shall say that the eve of the third millennium was the beginning of the end of the dark ages in Ethiopia ... the beginning of the Ethiopian Renaissance. “We know that our country can take its rightful place among the developed nations of the earth. We know that we can do it not only because all Ethiopian generations prior to our dark age had done it, but also because we, this generation of Ethiopians, have already begun to do it.” n CurrenT aFFairs
Caftan, with passion
For the 12th consecutive year Morocco was the venue for an exciting fashion event that gives opportunity to burgeoning new talent and much needed funds to a worthy cause. Even though education is a universal right, women and girls are far from being in the same position as males. In Morocco this gender inequality was seized upon by CSSF, a non-profit organisation that contributes to the cost of educating girls in rural areas of the country. In support of this worthy cause, some of Morocco’s most celebrated fashion design talents were brought together at the 12th glorious year of Caftan with Passion, an annual celebration of Moroccan and Oriental Haute Couture, which attracts professionals from the global fashion industry as well as the international glitterati that proliferate in this cutting edge industry. The latest prestigious fashion show in the series , designed and organised by Femmes du Maroc, the country’s leading women’s magazine, held a curtain raiser during April in Casablanca, before moving on to the main event some weeks later in May in the famous ochre coloured city of magic, Marrakech. It was here that a series of brilliant newcomers unveiled their creations in a tribute to electric and bubbly Rock. An organiser commented: “We have come a long way since the first edition of ‘Caftan’ in 1996 but the passion remains the same and, thankfully, the event has managed to preserve its soul.” n
The Middle easT June 2008 33