Ethiopia’s Transformation: Authoritarianism and Economic Development

Ethiopia’s Transformation: Authoritarianism and Economic Development

A former resident of Addis Ababa returning today after an absence of five years would find the city almost unrecognizable. In that time, Ethiopia has transformed itself economically, and nowhere is that transformation more on display than in its capital. In terms of infrastructure and housing, Addis Ababa has blossomed from perhaps Africa's worst example of urban planning into a grid of paved streets and multilane ring roads, with corresponding glass-walled high rises and luxury villas comparable to Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ethiopian government has used its unlimited power to bulldoze whole neighborhoods, evicting residents with little notice or compensation in order to build roads, factories and condominiums. Though the government's character has evolved over the years, vacillating from periods of representative democracy to oppressive dictatorship, overall it can be characterized as an authoritarian regime. As a result, its path to growth raises challenging questions about the problematic relationship between authoritarianism and economic development.

From 'Political Spring' to Authoritarian Backlash

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