Editor’s Note: March 29, 2018

Ethiopia’s new leader could be good news

After weeks of speculation Ethiopia’s ruling coalition on Tuesday named Abiye Ahmed as its new Chairman. He is expected to be appointed prime minister, succeeding Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned in February.

Ahmed’s selection could have profound significance. Most obviously he is from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest, which has been the driving force behind at times deadly anti-government protests in recent years. The Oromo and Amhara, together accounting for 66% of Ethiopia’s 100m people, are marginalized in government by the minority Tigray.

The move is clearly aimed at fostering national reconciliation, and media coverage is understandably focusing on how Ahmed might tackle the country’s significant political and social challenges.

Less obvious is what his selection could do for Ethiopia’s economic prospects. The East African country has experienced double digit GDP growth for much of the last decade. With ambitions to become a regional and international manufacturing hub Ethiopia is widely tipped to be a leading contender in Africa for a China-style economic transformation.

The biggest obstacle to realising such potential has for years been the divided nature of the country’s politics. 

There is much work to be done, but any meaningful progress on this by Ahmed should be really good news for business, the economy, and Ethiopia.

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The Daily Follow

Makhtar Diop @Diop_WB: The World Bank’s Vice President for Africa. Tweets on development across the continent.