The future of African economic development?

With respect to the destination of Ethiopia’s exports, some surprising shifts are taking place. Switzerland has (just barely) surpassed China as the top destination for Ethiopia‟s exports.

In what is probably the start of a longer-term trend, neighboring and regional countries are increasingly among the largest buyers of Ethiopian goods: Somalia and Sudan, for example, are both now individually larger export markets for Ethiopia than is the U.S. or Italy or Great Britain.

From Access Capital’s latest report on Ethiopia.

Regional trade is almost certainly underplayed in most development plans. The absence of a freight rail link from Addis to Kenya or Egypt is an absurdity, hopefully to be rectified.

4 thoughts on “The future of African economic development?

  1. Chris, as you know, I have been writing and speaking about this for years. My CGD book, Africa’s Private Sector, has the outline of a road network to link all major cities in Africa, similar plans exist for rail etc. There is currently NO overland trade between Nigeria and South Africa and one company even told me that they once shipped cement by air!!!The problem is to get the collective action needed–donors much prefer to spend their dollars on country-level activity and governments follow suit (they often have no choice).

  2. If there’s a rail link from Ethiopia to Egypt by 2030, I’ll be surprised. The record of rail construction in Africa in the last 40 years is not exactly encouraging; with very few exceptions outside of SA, rail networks across the continent have been getting worse, not better.

    Note that much of Ethiopia’s trade is with soon-to-be South Sudan.

    Doug M.