Major book focusing on Ethiopian economy launched

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The first single country handbook in Africa focusing on the Ethiopian economy has been published by Oxford University Press, although the price is extraordinarily high for Ethiopian readers.
‘The Oxford Handbook of the Ethiopian Economy’ was officially introduced during three ceremonies held last weekend at the Economic Commission for Africa for the foreign community, Ethiopian Economics Association (EEA) for economists and contributors to the book and at Ethiopian Skylight targeting the business community.
It is 1,008 pages with 50 chapters classified into six sections. The sections focus on the key areas of the Ethiopian economy including economic development, social policy, agricultural and rural transformation, industrialization and urbanization, and structural transformation in the African continent. The beginning looks at context, concepts and history.
In the book 70 well known economists and other professionals participated and 42 percent of the writers are not Ethiopians.
Arkebe Oqubay, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, who is one of the three editors and a writer for the book said at the ceremony held at EEA on Saturday February, 9 that the handbook took about four years to become a reality.
Arkebe, who wrote; ‘Made in Africa: Industrial Policy in Ethiopia’ published in 2015 by Oxford, told Capital the Oxford Economic Handbook is the first for an African country. It came to fruition at the invitation of Oxford University Press because they were impressed by the country’s unique way of economic principles and growth.
It was challenging to develop the book because of struggles with research practices and trends, and lack of accurate or inaccessible data for policy suggestions. There were also several problems including funding shortages. Gender disparities are one of the issues that need to be worked in light of the fact that only 14 female authors were involved in the handbook out of 70 70 participants.
Twelve more volumes selected from the chapters in the handbook will be developed.
“The second edition of this volume is expected to be published in 2025 that should be updated and give an opportunity for authors that did not contribute to the current one,” Arkebe said.
He told Capital that the major focus area was giving pure information and scholarly standards and original content free from bias, while give freedom for scholars so they can reflect on their research freely.
“It has, for instance, criticized the gaps of the government. My chapter has also shown ways that problems can be solved,” he said. “Since the main target of the handbook is showing details of the Ethiopian economy on a knowledge basis and using it as a reference for researchers and government policy it has to be quality.” He added that to keep the originality one chapter was dropped because the subject had been published before.
The PM advisor said that the handbook would have several advantages besides an input for research and scholarship.
“Investors who are looking at possible destinations may consider Ethiopia because this handbook has several inputs for their assessment and it would make it easy to evaluate their options in the country,” he said.
The statement issued during the book launching held at EEA stated that the handbook is expected to serve a wide audience, including researchers, academics, policymakers, and practitioners, and is expected to be a major source for graduate and undergraduate students.
Fantu Cheru, Senior Researcher and Emeritus Professor, African Studies Centre, Leiden University, The Netherlands, and Christopher Cramer, Professor of the Political Economy of Development, SOAS, University of London, UK are the other two editors of the handbook. The two editors also helped write chapters like Arkebe.
Authors like Teferi Abate, Christopher Clapham, Menberetsehai Tadesse, Mekonnen Manyazewal, Admasu Shiferaw, Yohannes Ayalew, Seid Nuru, Assefa Hailemariam, Zinabu Samaro, Ayelech Tiruwha, Edlam Abera, and Carols Lopes were involved in the production of the 50 chapters.
The book allocates four chapters for agriculture and three for the coffee sector which is the leading areas of the 50 chapters. Lack of adequate focus on health and economy and construction sector as a chapter has been criticized as a problem with the first edition of the Ethiopian economic handbook.
The price of the book is USD 135 which is very expensive for Ethiopian audiences.
“It will be a good reference for students in higher education. We are working to get funds from donors to distribute the book at universities in the country for free,” Arkebe told Capital.
The PM’s advisor is in the process of publishing two books: ‘China-Africa and an Economic Transformation’ and ‘How Nation Can Learn’ that will be published by Oxford in the coming April and May respectively. Another book of Arkebe’s, ‘African Economic Development’ published by the same press is expected to be available by February 2020.