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Ethiopia: Donor Support for Economic Reforms Reached $9bn


Sunday December 15, 2019


Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed poses with medal and diploma after receiving Nobel Peace Prize during ceremony in Oslo City Hall, Norway December 10, 2019. NTB Scanpix/Hakon Mosvold Larsen via REUTERS

Addis Ababa - Ethiopia announced Friday that it had secured roughly $9 billion (8 billion euros) in outside financing for ambitious economic reforms which analysts say could underpin the country's delicate political transition.

According to Agence France Presse, the finance ministry said in a statement that development partners had pledged "well over" $3 billion for Ethiopia's "Home-Grown Economic Reform" agenda unveiled earlier this year.

The statement said that comes on top of previous commitments of $3 billion from the World Bank and $2.9 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Twitter that he was "very pleased" with the pledges, adding that they would go toward "macroeconomic, structural and sectoral reforms".

Abiy, this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate, clearly believes that breathing new life into Ethiopia's economy is crucial for his prospects in elections planned for next year, AFP said.

Failure to address problems like unemployment and a weakening currency would risk aggravating tensions in a country already grappling with mounting ethnic unrest and other security challenges.
 
Ethiopia is one of Africa's fastest-growing economies, but high GDP rates have been largely fueled by state spending and officials now want to stimulate private-sector growth.

Abiy unveiled the "Homegrown Economic Reform" agenda to donors in September, describing it as "our bridge to prosperity".

The plan is intended to address issues like high inflation, foreign exchange shortages and current account deficits.

At the time, officials said it would require roughly $10 billion in external financing, and Abiy appealed to donors to "join us on this path".

The IMF funding was announced this week.

In a statement Wednesday, the lender said it had reached a "staff-level agreement" to provide $2.9 billion over three years to address challenges including "debt vulnerabilities".

The support now has to be approved by the IMF's executive board.

The finance ministry said Friday it expected to receive additional reform financing from United Nations agencies and the European Investment Bank.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Ethiopians lined the streets of Addis Ababa on Thursday to welcome Abiy upon his return from Norway where he accepted his Nobel Peace Prize.

Abiy said he accepted the award "on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace."

Abiy was cited by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for "his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea" and his efforts for "peace and international cooperation."



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