Ethiopia eyes end of food aid within five years-PM

Thu Aug 12, 2010 5:57am GMT

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia may not need any food aid within five years thanks to an ambitious development plan that targets a heady average economic growth of 14.9 percent over the period, its prime minister said on Wednesday.

The Horn of Africa nation is still one of the world's poorest countries, with nearly 10 percent of the population relying on emergency food aid last year.

But the government has posted high economic growth figures over the past five years, averaging about 11 percent, although the opposition says they are inflated to attract investment.

"In the future, we will feed ourselves and we will be able to manage our own forms of social security," Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told reporters. "I don't think that is impossible. I think it's quite achievable over the next five years."

Ethiopia is one of the world's biggest recipients of foreign aid, receiving $3.3 billion worth of help in 2008, according to the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The country's new five-year plan predicts a "base-case" scenario of 11 percent average growth and a "high-case scenario" of 14.9 percent average growth.

Ethiopia hopes to exploit growing business ties with China, India and Turkey and is also trying to attract visitors from those countries to boost its largely untapped tourism sector.

China has this year invested in road building, hydropower and windfarm projects in the impoverished nation, including almost $1 billion in two dam projects.   Continued...

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