GIBS CAMM Fellow, Dianna Games, examines the extraordinary and very different economic rise of two African giants: Egypt and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia and Egypt are among the emerging economic champions in Africa. Both have leadership focused on change, on development and on making a difference on the continent.

The countries are part of a new axis of continental power that is shifting eastwards as the two countries long considered to be the traditional leaders on African issues – South Africa and Nigeria – find themselves distracted by domestic concerns, low growth and competing interests.

Ethiopia is going through significant change under its young leader, Ahmed Abiy, who took power in 2018 and propelled his country forwards with radical reforms and a hitherto unseen political openness. Egypt, which has a turbulent history of political leadership and economic stagnation, is also reforming quickly under the leadership of former army chief, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Egypt’s economic turnaround strategy is nothing short of astonishing. The country is awash with new developments – new cities, brand new highways, shopping malls and housing, as well as a slew of new factories and industries, particularly along the Suez Canal – even though the achievements are tarnished by poor human rights and lack of political openness. 

The two men represent different aspects of an Africa that is changing and modernising. El-Sisi is an autocrat who leads by political fiat, while Abiy is a democrat who has seen his country go through phases of communism, empire, dictatorship, and a benign autocracy in more recent times. Both men are determined to make a difference but in very different ways. The following articles examine the economic progress of the two nations, their projected growth path and persistent political challenges.

Dianna Games' bio:

Dianna Games is an analyst, writer and commentator on doing business in Africa. She is CEO of business advisory Africa @ Work and a Fellow of the GIBS Centre for African Management and Markets. She is also a columnist for Business Day newspaper and African Business magazine. Dianna has travelled widely around Africa and done client work for many African and international clients, business schools, think tanks and NGOs. She is also head of the SA-Nigeria Business Chamber, which focuses on the bilateral trade and investment relationship between Africa’s biggest markets.

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