Ethiopia has enjoyed double-digit economic growth rates for the last decade, establishing itself as the fastest-growing economy in Africa. As a senior official in the ruling regime for the last few decades, Oqubay has been one of the architects of its economic policy, and his book offers interesting insights into the leadership’s ideas and motivations, especially when it comes to industry and exports. However, most of Ethiopia’s recent growth has come in the agricultural and service sectors, and so Oqubay’s argument that industrialization represents the key to economic success seems misplaced and mostly aspirational. Oqubay wants Ethiopia to adopt a development model heavily influenced by East Asian countries such as South Korea, where governments have been able to stimulate growth by exerting tight control over the economy. He repeatedly criticizes what he calls “mainstream” economics for its emphasis on comparative advantage and market-based incentives, insisting instead on the benefits of top-down planning. At the core of his analysis are well-informed case studies of Ethiopia’s cement, floriculture, and leather industries, in which he offers surprisingly frank assessments of the managerial and economic constraints these subsectors face.
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