There have been many different perceptions of what Ethiopia is…..
In 1984-5 there was the war and the famine. BBC documentaries and LiveAid made us sadly familiar with images of suffering and starvation. This aroused the sorrow and compassion of a generation.
Since 2003 we have become used to another Ethiopia, the economic miracles. There has been dramatic growth, most years around or over 10%. There are new roads, hydroelectric dams, industrial estates. Addis Ababa is changing with huge skyscrapers, many built with Chinese investment.
But behind the growth are startling statistics.
Ethiopia has a population of 112m (in 2019) and is growing at 2.6% a year. 28% of these are under 10 years old.
GDP per capita has grown to $1800. Its good to know this is growing but compare this with Nigeria at $5570, India at $6890, China at $16000. Ethiopians remain desperately poor. 42m or 39% of the population earn less than $1 a day – usually recognised at the level of absolute poverty.
HIV/AIDS has been getting worse since 2008. Between 570,000 and 880,000 were living with the virus in 2016, including around 50,000 children.
Ethnic tensions have led to the displacement of 2.6m people, in addition to 900,000 refugees – an increase of 79% since 2017.
There is an ancient church with a unique tradition dating back to before 350 CE. In addition there are large numbers of Muslims and Evangelical – and a tradition of tolerance and co-existence.