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Regional Development Planning in Ethiopia: Past Experience, Current Initiatives and Future Prospects
This paper examines the evolution of regional development planning in Ethiopia and explores its future prospects. The main contention of the paper is that in the past, regional development, in line with the functional integration approach, was considered a national project. Four main problems have influenced regional policy areas, namely: a) the need for rapid growth and development, b) the need to industrialise, c) the need to develop water resources, and d) the need to develop resource frontiers and expansion of agricultural export. A concentration strategy and package programs; import substitution industrialisation; river basin development and commercial farms have been the regional policy responses to the above problems. These policies were not adequate to stimulate regional development and reduce the imbalances in the country. The current initiatives of regional policies are marked by decentralised planning systems, inter-regional allocation of resources; investment policies; regional capacity building; river basin planning and special area programs. The adequacy of each of these elements, however, indicates that there is room for improvement. In addition these policies are not implemented as part of an overall regional policy. The future orientation of regional policy should be based on the macro-economic development model of the country. Hence regional policy should derive from the policies of de. regulation, liberalisation, promotion of private investment, export-led growth and rural centred strategies. Similarly, the deepening of decentralisation should lead to more emphasis on local level development. Explicit concern with bringing regional equity should guide the resource allocation in future. It is recommended that the country should develop an explicit regional policy whose components should emphasise inter-regional co-operation; regional competitiveness; and regional resource mobilisation. Regional policies at regional levels should work towards achieving appropriate incentives/investment policy, participation of the people and generation of inter-sectoral plans.
Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review (EASSRR) VOLUME XVI No. 1 January 2000, pp. 65-94