“We must not get fatigued telling good stories”: The AfDB Development Effectiveness Review on Ethiopia


imageOne of the most trustworthy partners of Ethiopia for half a century, the African Development Bank (AfDB), has officially launched the “Development Effectiveness Review on Ethiopia” on Wednesday (November 18).   The Report examines Ethiopia’s development challenges in recent years and assessed the African Development Bank’s contribution to addressing them. The Review also looks at how effectively the Bank manages its operations and its organization in Ethiopia. Statistics put that Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of African Development Fund resources with an active portfolio of $1.7 Billion at the end of the year 2014. According to the AfDB’s Vice-President of Operations, in charge of country and regional programs, Janvier Litse, “Ethiopia’s strong economic growth provides an excellent platform for tackling the country’s many development challenges. Its ambitious public investment program is equal to one-third of its GDP, well above the regional average.” The Vice-President on his note on the Review disclosed that the pro-poor budgets and investments have helped to ensure that growth is inclusive: 2.5 million Ethiopians have been lifted out of poverty over the past eight years.” However, Janvie added, as one of Africa’s largest and most populous countries, Ethiopia face some daunting challenges. Recalling agriculture, a sector which provides nearly half of its economic output, most of it is rain fed and vulnerable to recurrent droughts. Shifting more of the workforce into agro-processing and other light manufacturing is key to linking Ethiopia into global value chains and creating lasting prosperity. The overview of the effectiveness report was presented by Dr. Victoria Chisala, the Division Manager in ORQR 1.The Review was done in a fashion of performance scorecard where four major measurement frameworks were made the pillars; development in Ethiopia, how AfDB contributes to Ethiopia’s development, how well AfDB manages its operations in Ethiopia and how efficient the bank is as an organization in the country. Each of the measurement frameworks are expressed in terms of four colors which indicate the degree to which the performance had hit its target or not. Ethiopia’s relative performance was measured by comparing its progress with progress in peer ADF (African Development Fund) countries. Ethiopia’s development progress between 2005 and 2013 was accompanied by a huge amount of green light which tells progress is strong and better than that of the peers. GDP growth, total investment, unemployment, paved road, access to improved water source, access to electricity, mobile cellular subscribers, life expectancy, infant mortality rate, enrollment in primary education, Global hunger index, corruption perception score, time required for startup and commercial bank branches per 100,000 adults and other performance indicators have earned a green status. However, Ethiopia has earned many of its yellow status on sustaining growth. For instance, time to export, cost of trading across borders and global competitiveness have earned a yellow color which tells progress is positive but less than that of peers. Two areas where Ethiopia’s relative performance earned the red light or in other words which hits the regression against the base line are income inequality and cost of business start up. Income inequality which is measured by Gini-coefficient has increased from 30 to 30.4. The review disclosed that though it still can be favorably compared with the average 42.5 in the low income countries in Africa much is to be done. Cost of business startup has increased from 65% of income per capita in 2005 to 100%. The second performance measurement was on how the AfDB contributes to Ethiopia’s development. The Bank operations achieved 95% or more of its targets in the infrastructure development and skills and technology. The Bank’s contribution towards the country’s development has shown its low record on private sector development particularly on improved water management and reforestation. The bank provided 10, 340 hectares of land with improved water management compared to a target of nearly 22,000, and total land whose use has been improved through replanting or reforesting was just 36% of the target. The third measurement framework was on how well AfDB manages its operations in the country. This assessment is on the Bank’s progress on selection, design and supervision of its operations. This, in other words, explains how well the AfDB works with the Ethiopian Government and other development partners to increase the effectiveness of its assistance. The strong features under this measurement framework were the supervision of operations, the high decrease in projects at risk and gender informed operations (projects with satisfactory gender equality outcomes). The Review unveils that it is working in close partnership with the Ethiopian Government and other development partners. Especially in recent years it the Bank is doing this in a more effective way; design high quality projects, maximizing development impact, focusing more on implementation challenges, etc. The final level of the framework measures was on how efficient the AfDB is as an organization in Ethiopia. The AfDB uses 14 indicators to assess its progress making the major ones- moving closer to its clients, engaging and mobilizing staff and improving business process and cost efficiency. Almost all of the indicators earned green light which implies that the AfDB is efficiently functioning in the country as an organization. This was a result of, according to the data from the AfDB review, the effectiveness of the recently introduced policy of decentralization of the Bank. This increased its visibility and makes it better placed to participate in country-led development process. The Development Effective Review of Ethiopia showed the impressive progress the country has made in recent years. The Review noted that AfDB’s programs were one among the few reliable projects that had fueled the progress of the country by financing 118 projects for a total value of $4 billion with a particular emphasis on expanding road infrastructure to improve access to market services and support to energy generation. The Review strongly commends the strong architecture of Ethiopia for aid coordination especially through the annual High Level Forum which provides a platform for formal dialogue between Government and development partners. However the Bank also mentioned Ethiopia’s agricultural production which is among the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was in such sense that the Bank recommends helping farmers to move from subsistence agriculture to commercial farming, scaling up the use of modern farming practices, providing access to credit and producing high level crops for exports. Josephine Ngure, the resident representative of the AfDB in her clsong remarks also suggested on the inevitable step of transforming aid to internal resource mobilization for Ethiopia and for the countries of the continent. She also commented that AfDB has relatively done lesser in the Agriculture sector but will focus more on that in the future. The resident representative also mentioned data as the main challenge in preparing the Development Effectiveness Review. Finally Josephine said, “We must not get fatigued telling good stories because we have never get tired of telling shocking stories.” Benyam Ephrem Betrework, Ethiopia 


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