afrol News, 2 December - The Ethiopian parliament today endorsed government's five-year "growth and transformation" plan, which seeks to maximise economic growth in the country. Agriculture is to become a major drive.
According to the Addis Ababa government, the five-year plan was "unanimously endorsed" by parliament after a week-long deliberation. Chief Whip Aster Mamo had told MPs that "the nation will register remarkable achievement in all spheres in the coming five year" if they endorsed the plan.
The government plan foresees a continuation of Ethiopia's strong economic growth "in the same pace," according to Ms Mamo, or at an even faster pace. Government targets growth rates at up to 15 percent in the period.
Ethiopia's long neglected agricultural sector is set to be the main focus on attention in the coming five-year period. "The practice of applying agricultural technologies by model farmers would be scaled up to others," according to Ms Mamo.
Ethiopia is a fertile country but erratic rainfalls are causing agricultural outputs to vary much from year to year. The Addis Ababa government has started investing strongly in irrigation and new technologies to head the country towards a "Green revolution", both to secure food security and to increase highly potential exports.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi indeed placed most emphasis on the planned boost to agriculture when he earlier presented the five-year plan. He warned against seeing an agriculture- led economy is a "backward system," saying many countries made great revenues from a modern agricultural sector.
According to Ms Mamo, government also plans to follow up on its massive infrastructure investments. The growth plan has ambitious goals. During the next five years, Ethiopia's road network is to grow from the current 49,000 kilometres to 136,000. Works on a new 2,000-kilometer rail network have already started.
Regarding power supply, large investments are already being made, and during the next five years government plans to quadruple power production to 8,000 megawatts. This would increase electricity coverage from a current 41 percent to 75 percent of the population, according to government figures.
Further infrastructure efforts would be exerted to improve the telecommunication, information technology and electric services throughout the country.
Some economic reforms were also announced, where "micro and small enterprises" would be given better conditions. Reforms were also to ensure increased "efficiency, accountability and transparency," according to Ms Mamo.
Addis Ababa parliamentary speaker Abadula Gemeda hailed the decision to endorse the five-year plan, urging stakeholders to ensure its "successful realisation." According to Mr Gemeda, diplomats in Ethiopia have already "pledged to do everything possible" to assist government in reaching its ambitious goals.
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