AWiB’s May Forum, 2019 – Adaptive Leadership: Welcoming the New Frontier

We are at a critical juncture in our country and forecasts have been hopeful so far but the challenges remain tremendous. On the one hand, the IMF has announced a projected economic growth of 8.5%, our social, economic and political space is heading towards liberalization. Within the economic space alone, there is a definitive shift towards a capitalist economy, leaving behind the long celebrated developmental state model of the past decade. Talks of privatization of state owned enterprises have left many antsy or excited, depending who you are speaking to. Regionally, Ethiopia is now one of forty four African nations that have signed on for the continental free space agreement. Politically and socially, we are moving towards political liberalization with a strong push towards social consciousness and service. Peace has been made with Eritrea, with peace dividends expected in trade and access to the port of Massawa.

On the other hand, the long dwindling access to foreign exchange has resulted in stagnating trade. Heavy state borrowing and spending has left Ethiopia indebted to foreign governments and inflation is at an all-time high. As with any other country with an increasing youth demographic bulge, job creation is of paramount concern. The opening up of political space augmented by the technological enabler that is social media, has opened space to the good and potentially unsavory in the socio-political space and identity politics has polarized the nation to dangerous stalemates in multiple sides of the nation. With elections approaching in 2020, enabling a positive transition requires some innovative policy making at the governance level and adaptive leadership among positional and non-positional leaders. Suffice it to say, we are currently in the midst of social, economic and political changes that will be sure to affect each and every one of us personally, in our day to day lives and in our businesses and as a nation but very few quite understand how, why or when.

May Forum 2019 Concept Note