Reexamining the Politics of “Developmental State” in Ethiopia: Was/Is Ethiopia a Developmental State in EPRDF Regime? A Study From 1991-2018

Main Article Content

Getasew Endalew Admasu


The core theme of the article is focused on reexamining the "developmental state" politics in Ethiopia. Conceptually, a developmental state is a state which follows the development approach of a state-led economy. It is characterized by the existence of development oriented-political leadership, autonomous bureaucracy, production-oriented private sector, and performance-oriented governance. Based on this notion, the study aims to prove whether Ethiopia (from 1991-2018) is a developmental state or not in the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) regime by employing a qualitative research approach with secondary sources of data. Hence, EPRDF's economic-political realities are examined using theoretical frameworks and features of the developmental state. Accordingly, the study has found, first, that the rhetoric of creating efficient development-oriented political leadership in Ethiopia is aborted due to the prevalence of the economic-political culture of corruption, organized theft, and rent-seeking. Secondly, the EPRDF regime has failed to build autonomous and efficient bureaucracy. Thirdly, the private sector had forced so as not to be productive, competitive, and strong. Fourthly, through achieving high economic growth and reducing the level of poverty, the regime has relatively succeeded in performance-oriented governance even though debt crisis, high level of unemployment, and huge income disparity, the concentration of national resources prevailed amidst the poor level of industrialization. Thus, empirically, EPRDF's Ethiopia in the study's time frame has exceedingly remained as a predatory state and marginally continued as a developmental state. Accordingly, the study recommends succeeding regimes that strive to achieve sustainable economic development to take lessons from the failure of EPRDF in functioning development-oriented political leadership, production-oriented private sector, and meritocratic bureaucracy, plus realizing performance-oriented governance.

Article Details

How to Cite
Getasew Endalew Admasu. (2022). Reexamining the Politics of “Developmental State” in Ethiopia: Was/Is Ethiopia a Developmental State in EPRDF Regime? A Study From 1991-2018. PanAfrican Journal of Governance and Development (PJGD), 3(1), 163-185.
Author Biography

Getasew Endalew Admasu, University of Gondar, Ethiopia

Getasew Endalew Admasu is serving as a Lecturer at the Department of Civics and Ethical Studies, University of Gondar, Ethiopia since October 22, 2016. He earned his BA Degree in Civics and Ethical Studies from Bahir Dar University and MA Degree in Political Science. His areas of interest are issues related to Civics and Ethical Studies and Political Science. He is also interested in conducting research, publications, and engaging in community service.


Abbink, J. (1997). Ethnicity and Constitutionalism in Contemporary Ethiopia: Journal of African Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp. 159-174, available at
Abiy, A. (2019). Medemer: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Agbude, G., and Etete, P. (2013). Ethical Leadership, Corruption and Irresponsible Governance: Rethinking the African Dilemma, Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, MCSER-CEMAS-Sapienza University of Rome, Vol. 4, No.6, pp. 481-488.
Ahmed, O. (2017). Enhancing the Development of the Private Sector for Inclusive Growth and Job Creation in IGAD; Working Paper, the Horn Economic and Social Policy Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Alemayehu, G. and Befekadu, D. (2005). Explaining African Growth Performance: The
Case of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Bates, R. (2000). Ethnicity and Development in Africa: A Reappraisal, American Economic Review, Vol. 90, No. 2. , pp., 131-134, available at:
Bedlu, W. (2019). On the Tip; Which Ethiopia? Which Language? What Type of Journalism? Social Decade of Morality: Mankusa Printing House, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Befekadu, D. and Birhanu, N. (2004). Annual Report of Ethiopian Economy: Ethiopian Economic Association, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Bordens, K. and Abot, B. (1999).Research Design and Methods: A Process Approach, 4th Edition, Mayfield Publishing Company, USA, California.
Diamond, L. (2008). The Democratic Rollback: The Resurgence of the Predatory State. Council on Foreign Relations, Vol. 87, No. 2, pp. 36-48, available at
Eshetu, C. (2004). Underdevelopment in Ethiopia: Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa, Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian Economic Association (2007). Report On the Ethiopian Economy: Unemployment Challenges and Prospects, Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Fekade, G. The Science and Art of Leadership: Rehoboth Publishers, Addis Ababa. 2018.
Flynn, J. (2005). Ethiopia: What Can Be Done? Student Economic Review, Vol. 19, pp. 253-63.
Fesseha, M and Abtewold, M. (2017). Ethiopia: A Democratic Developmental State? International Review, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 9-18.
Frankfurt-Nachmias, C. and Nachmias, D. (1996): Research Methods in the Social Sciences; 5th Edition, Arlond, a Member of the Hooder Head Line group, Britain, London.
Getachew, A. (2018). Ethiopia’s Economy: From Where to Where? The Contradiction of Market-Led Economy and Governance of Developmental Economy: Tarik Publishers, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Girma, K. (1992). The State and Development in Ethiopia, Book Reviews, The Review of Black Political Economy, Humanities Press International, United Kingdom, London.
Habtamu, A. (2017). Under the Sky of TPLF: 3rd edition, Mankusa Printing House, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Hauge, J. (2019). Should the African lion learn from the Asian - Tigers? A comparative-historical study of FDI- oriented industrial policy in Ethiopia, South Korea and Taiwan, Third World Quarterly, p.2071 – 91, available at 10.1080/01436597.2019.1629816.
Hsu, K. (2012). Two Paradigms of the Developmental State Approach, with Special Reference to South Korea and Taiwan, American Journal of Chinese Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 13- 28, available at
Jeong, H. (2000). Peace and Conflict Studies: An Introduction, Ashagte Publishing Company, Great Britain, UK.
Johnson, M. (2014). Secondary Data Analysis: A Method, of which the Time Has Come, Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries, pp.619 - 626
Jolliffe, D., Ambel, A., Ferede, T. and Seff, I. (2016). Dynamics of Poverty and Wellbeing in Ethiopia, An Introduction to a Special Issue of the Ethiopian Journal of Economics, Ethiopian Journal of Economics Vol. XXV No.2, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Kiruga, M (2019). Ethiopia Arrests Government Officials over Corruption, Africa Report, available at
Mahlet, F. and Yared, T. (2018). Analysis: Inside Ethiopia’s Trial of Grand Corruption. Who Is Accused Of What? Addis Standard, available at Http://Addisstandard.Com/Analysis-Inside-Ethiopias-Trial-Of-Grand-Corruption-Who-Is-Accused-Of-What/
Marcouiler, D. and Young, L. (1995). The Black Hole of Graft: The Predatory State and the Informal Economy, The American Economic Review, American Economic Association, Vol. 85, No. 3, pp. 630-646.
Merera, G. (2007). Ethnicity, Democratization and Decentralization in Ethiopia: The Case of Oromia, Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review, Volume 23, Number 1, pp. 81-106.
Meyns, P. and Musamba, C. (Ed). (2010). The Developmental State in Africa; Problems and Prospects, Institute for Development and Peace, University of Duisburg‐Essen.
MoFED (2010). Growth and Transformation Plan: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.
Moselle, B. and Polak, B. (2001). A Model of a Predatory State, Oxford University Press, Vol. 17, No.1, pp. 1-33 available at
Muiu, M. and Martin, G. (2009). A New Paradigm of the African State, First Edition, Palgrave Macmillan, United States of America, New York.
Muleta, Y. (2015). The Role of Developmental State in Development: The Case of Ethiopia', International Journal of African and Asian Studies, Vol. 14, PP. 96-110 available at
Olayode, K. (2016). Beyond Intractability: Ethnic Identity and Political Conflicts in Africa, International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 6, No. 6, pp. 242-248.
Onis Z. (1991). The Logic of the Developmental State; Comparative Politics: The City University of New York, Vol.24.No.1 PP. 109 - 126.
Oshora, B., Nguse, T., Farkas, M., and Zeman, Z. (2021). Economic Growth, Investment, Population Growth and Unemployment in Ethiopia: SHS Web of Conferences, available at
Plummer J. (Ed) (2012). Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia: Perceptions, Realities, and the Way Forward for Key Sectors: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank, Washington DC, USA.
Shiferaw, A. (2017). Productive Capacity and Economic Growth in Ethiopia United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, USA, New York.
Sutehal, T., Sque, M., and Hall, J. (2010). Secondary Analysis of Data: a Valuable Method for Exploring sensitive Issues within an Elusive Population: Journal of Research in Nursing, London, UK, Vol. 16, No.4, pp. 335-344.
Tewolde, G. (2017). The “Democratic Developmental State” in Ethiopia: Origin, Challenges and Prospects. In Sonja, S, Dagnachew Assefa and Busha Taa (Eds), Cultures of Democracy in Ethiopia: From Theory To Lived Experiences, Friedrich –Ebert-Stiftung Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, pp. 88-104.
UNDP (2012), Democratization in a Developmental State: The Case of Ethiopia; Issues, Challenges and Prospects, Discussion Paper, Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.
UNDP (2018). Ethiopia’s Progress Towards Eradicating Poverty; Paper to be Presented to the Inter-Agency Group Meeting on the “Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018 – 2027)”, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Yonas, K. (2016). Domestic sources of international action: Ethiopia and the global war on terrorism, African Journal of Political Science and International Relations, Vol. 10, No. 11, pp. 131 -144.
Yusuf, Y. (2017). “Ethiopiawinet, Asebasabi Maninet, Band-Ager Ljinet”: Nebadan Publication, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
West, D. (2005). Combating Terrorism in the Horn of Africa and Yemen; Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, available at
Wong, J. (2004). The Adaptive Developmental State in East Asia, Journal of East Asian Studies, pp. 345-362.
Zemelak, A. (2017). Corruption in Ethiopia: A merely Technical problem or Constitutional Crisis? Available at
Zouaoui, A., Qudah, A., and Arab, M. (2017). World Corruption Perception Index Analysis, Research Journal of Finance and Accounting, Vol.8, No.24, available at