Infrastructure Equity for State-and Nation-Building Processes: The Case of Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


In the past two decades, Ethiopia has achieved tremendous economic development. This has brought recognition from the international community including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Despite this fateful economic growth, internal conflict is not contained. The federal arrangement is sought to overcome the problems arising from the previous mismanagement of diversity. However multifaceted political unrest has been witnessed especially since 2014. The main protests came from the two largest regions, Oromia and Amhara, and other regions joined later. The subsequent party fragmentation and leadership change supporting the popular uprising was another phenomenal event in the history of the party which was allegedly controlled by the then ruling party- Ethiopian Peoples Republic Democratic Front (EPRDF). Currently, the country is in transition accompanied by sporadic conflicts. The main question that can be raised is why the political system which aims to accommodate diversity fails to achieve its goal while it has been scoring promising economic development? The economic sector has been severely threatened by spontaneous protests outbreak everywhere. Some scholars attempt to answer the question in relation to the inappropriate implementation of the federal system. Some authors also argue that the self-rule rights of regional states were constrained by the encroachment of the federal government via its laws and centralized party structures. Others attribute to the securitizing measures of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) on those ethnic groups (Amhara and Oromo) potentially threatened its stronghold of political power in the country. Moreover, there is a lack of peace in the county due to ethnicized conflict. Thus, Ethiopia has become a theatre of conflict. The above causes are significant in contributing to the current fragility of the nation-building process. Meanwhile, there is also another, arguably the most important, variable for the political crisis of Ethiopia: the issue of infrastructure inequity. In a country adopted federal arrangement to accommodate diversity and committed to bringing economic development in which it began to succeed, the intensification of identity conflicts and political unrest is best explained by examining the equity of this economic development. Among others, the country has been allocating a huge capital investment is on infrastructure development notably on road, electricity, telecommunication, higher education (university infrastructure), airport, and industrial parks. The general objective of this thesis is to examine the impacts of institutional capacity, infrastructure governance, and infrastructure equity on the nation-building process in a developing country context, specifically in Ethiopia. The study has developed and empirically tested the theoretical/conceptual model