Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — The bulldozers, tractors and cranes are busy day and night, paving new roads, building tall glass buildings and constructing a new light rail system to stitch together the city’s ends.
In less than five years, the city’s skyline has changed drastically. Above the dust, in a seven-story building overlooking Meskel Square, sits Abiy Gebeyehu, a real estate development manager at the Sunshine Construction Company. He is going through files and figures, looking down at the spot where Ethiopia’s former communist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, once smashed to the ground three bottles of what was supposedly blood as a warning to his opponents.
“The government changed its policy,” Mr. Gebeyehu said, explaining how his company became part of Ethiopia’s economic growth. “They are engaging private business.”
Once the epitome of poverty and hunger, Ethiopia is changing. Three decades after a famine that prompted America’s top singers to respond with “We Are the World,” Ethiopia has had an average economic growth rate of 10 percent for over a decade and has met or is coming close to meeting several important Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, according to the World Bank.
Some economists have called Ethiopia an “African lion,” mimicking the success stories of Asia’s economic tigers, and the government here has an ambitious plan to make Ethiopia a middle-income country by 2025.
It sometimes seems that everything here in the capital is under construction. Head out on one road in the morning and you might find it blocked off for a development project by evening. The thumping of jackhammers, the sight of men in orange vests, and the comments of Ethiopians who are at once infuriated by the inconvenience and impressed with their country’s transformation are constant.