The long-serving senior government official, Arkebe Okubay (PhD), has launched Oxford University’s ‘The Oxford Handbook of the Ethiopian Economy’ in which he authored some chapters and edited sections.
Launching the economic guidebook during the 17th annual series of the International Conference on Ethiopian Economy on Thursday; Arkebe, currently serving as a senior economic advisor to the Prime Minister, said that he was attending the conference as a researcher and not as a government official.
While speaking to some 700 audiences about the guidebook at the premise of the Ethiopian Economists Association (EEA), Arkebe said that 70 authors have contributed to produce 1000 pages of the book that would serve as a reference material for the coming decade.
According to Arkebe, the book comes with contrasting scholarly views backed by evidence that took some four years to finalize. The initial book project was incepted in 2015, he said.
The guidebook which costs USD 100 has six sections and 58 percent of the authors are Ethiopian scholars living here and abroad. One of the peculiarities of the economic yearbook, according to Arkebe, is that it does not necessarily reflect views of the government. In fact, the book is the first of its kind to be published and produced by Oxford University in Africa. Moreover, the second series of the book that would feature Ethiopia from 2017 to 2025 will commence in due time, he said.
The book which covers many topics, however, was constrained in its coverage of gender issues, external finance, infrastructure, and the labor market. He was also not shy to denounce public agencies for lack of availing data and openness. Arkebe urged the public institutions to make credible data available online. He also called on local researchers to do more researches and work on quality.
Arkebe, turned scholar, debuted his first book: “Made in Africa: Industrial Policy in Ethiopia,” for his PhD dissertation in 2015. It was during this year the guidebook project with Oxford University initiated.
Both local and foreign economists have turned their attentions to the Ethiopian economy which many see it as experiencing a testing time. Some argue that the government of Ethiopia is longing to introduce liberal economy and some say it is neither a developmental state model nor a liberal economic structure.
Tadele Ferede (PhD), president of EEA told The Reporter that when Ethiopia claimed to adopt a developmental state model, it hasn’t been able to create the required hard and soft infrastructures; the likes of South Korea had setup and succeeded to transform their state of economies. Tadele argued that economic models are not dogmatic and Ethiopia surly need to change and adopt relevant policies which he says has not seen a clear-cut and set plan.
Once struggling to exist, EEA was able to reinvigorate its activities and this year’s scholars meeting was attended by Abebe Aemero Selassie (PhD), director with IMF Africa department. Abebe mentioned that after 25 years of leaving in abroad, he said that Ethiopia has been growing strong in those years and recently faces the emerging “significant macro imbalances.” Those imbalances, according to Tadele, are serious symptoms of an ill-economy. The double-digit inflation, swelling unemployment rate, and a shrinking export sector are some of the symptoms the government for long has neglected to act on.