Why Ethiopia needs fast growing secondary cities?
BY ABIY HAILU
Secondary cities have become the subject of renewed interest by development scholars recently
Having one of the fastest growing economies in the world for a decade, Ethiopia aspires to become middle income country by 2025. Up till now, the country's economic growth achievements overwhelmingly relies on the agricultural sector. The sector is cornerstone of the successive double digit growth and essential ingredient for the national goal of getting rid of poverty. Through successive five year transformation plans, the country aspires to transform the structural base of the economy from agriculture to industry. Most development theories see development as a process of structural transformation from agriculture into manufacturing and service sectors. And this process involves a shift of labour out of rural areas and into urban centres. Yet, in terms of the level urbanization, Ethiopia is still among the least urbanized countries in the world — less than 20 per cent of the country's 90 million population live in cities.
Bearing the countries objectives of becoming a middle-income country via Agriculture Development Led Industrialization economic policy, what should worry policy-makers the most is that Ethiopia only has one major urban centre with a population of a million or more (Addis Ababa is the sole political, economic and cultural centre of the country). This reality leads to a conclusion that the country has to intensively work to facilitate the development of several secondary cities to match its industrialization and development objectives.
Certainly, urbanization and industrialization are different but interrelated concepts. They could be seen as two sides of the same coin. Industrialization is the development of a factory or manufacturing based economy, while urbanization is a shift of the population from living in rural areas or small towns to living mostly in cities.