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5:13 pm - Wednesday April 19, 4186

A Malthusian Interpretation of the Political Crisis in Ethiopia !

A Malthusian Interpretation of the Political Crisis in Ethiopia !

Over the last fifty years Ethiopia’s population grew from about 30 million to over 120 million !   The price of the staple food crop teff shot up from 30 birr per quintal to about 15000 birr per quintal ,indicating its relative shortage vis a vis the population growth ! A significant increase in the price of the staple food crop is due to currency printing to finance the increasing price of land arising from the monetisation of land ,which ,as everybody knows, is a gift of nature and not a product of labour ! As a result, land itself has become a major source of income and wealth more prominently than the food produced on it ! Constitutionally ,land belongs to ” the government and the people” but in actual fact land belongs only to the government ! Private individuals are entitled to own houses but not the land on which the houses are built ; yet they benefit more from the implicit price of the land than from the houses when they” sell the houses !”
As urbanisation encroaches on hitherto rural areas, land prices continue to rise prompting peasant farmers to sell their land plots via their  tukuls and migrate to cities in search of jobs other than farming, negatively affecting food production ! On the other hand, real estate developers turn previous farmlands into high-rise building sites ! The government evicts urban dwellers from prime land in Addis Ababa and other cities and towns and moves them to the outskirts of cities and makes a huge profit on location !
As mentioned above, the Abiy government is evicting urban dwellers from prime urban land and settling them on the outskirts of cities to make a huge profit on location ! The government sells the prime land so subtly confiscated to real estate developers and pockets a part of the sales proceeds before they find their way to the public coffers ! Peasant farmers on the outskirts of cities also sell their farm plots to real estate developers and migrate to the cities to swell the ranks of the unemployed ! In due course of time ,the new city outskirts become prime land and create their own outskirts making them a target for yet another round of land speculation ! The process leads to uncontrolled urban sprawl as Addis Ababa has been going through for over 125 years !
In all this ,we can observe that land has become a major source of income and wealth even more significantly than production and particularly than food production in general ! Abiy and Adanech gave Berhanu Jula ,their Chief-of-Staff ,10000 sqm of prime land in Addis Ababa so that he can monetize it and become a billionaire overnight ! He should have earned a special monetary reward and a rank upgrade by proving to be ,so to speak, the Paton of Ethiopia ! He has not thus succeeded so far !

The moral of this post is that land itself has become a major source of income and wealth in Ethiopia instead of the food, industrial and mining output produced on and from it ! Real estate and urban development should result from expanded commercial farming and industrial development and not the other way around ! What has resulted from the real estate and urban development over the past fifty years is a serious discrepancy between population growth on the one hand and food production, industrial output and foreign exchange -earning capacity on the other hand, in the process making land, a gift of nature, the major source of income and wealth !  The final outcome has been internal conflicts over land and a  Malthusian positive checkgrowth reduction by war  pestilence and famine !

 

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