By Jean Damascène Hakuzimana
The Ethiopian economy had been growing steadily when violence erupted between the federal government and its own northern Tigray region, creating uncertainty about the economic health of the country. With a 10% gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the last decade, some sectors like clothing had been aiming to claim a place on the international export stage. Now this reach is imperiled.
In recent years, Ethiopia has succeeded in interesting foreign investors, among them the international clothing brands of H&M and Decathlon. But with a civil war that is rendering the country unstable, investors are likely to consider pulling back. The clothing industry had been expected to grow more than 40% in coming years, mainly through exports to the West, according to Quartz Africa. Coupled with the agricultural sector, also projected to grow, clothing could play a big role in propelling Ethiopia’s export market forward, thereby overturning the current trade imbalance. The clothing sector currently contributes just 0.6% to the national GDP, but has been poised for exponential growth.
The war in the Tigray region has killed thousands of civilians and half a million people have been internally displaced, with tens of thousands fleeing for safety to Sudan, according to the International Crisis Group. The double whammy of war, together with the COVID-19 crisis, is likely to have a huge impact on Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines has been hit badly by the health crisis, and has not received bailout funds like many companies in the West. The Independent reported that the airline company has survived by turning dozens of its aircraft into cargo carriers. Now that passenger traffic is resuming in Africa, seats are being reinstalled. ders to work in harmony to maintain peace and stability in DR Congo.