ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia's economy is expected to grow by 7.9 percent in the current 2023/2024 Ethiopian fiscal year that started on July 8, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said.
Ahmed made the remarks Tuesday while addressing the Ethiopian House of Peoples' Representatives, the lower house of the Ethiopian parliament. When asked about the performance of the Ethiopian economy during the first half of the current fiscal year, Ahmed said the East African country is one of the countries in the world recording rapid economic growth.
Noting that a 7.9 percent annual economic growth is projected during the current Ethiopian fiscal year, Ahmed attributed the growth to adjustments in the country's fiscal and monetary policy as well as positive performance in the agriculture sector.
In October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected the country's economy to grow 6.2 percent by the end of 2024, on the backdrop of a 6.1 percent economic growth in 2023.
Addressing the parliament, Ahmed underscored that the adverse effects of climate change, global uncertainties, internal security problems, as well as external pressures, are putting pressure on the Ethiopian economy. He said inflation has continued to be the country's biggest socioeconomic challenge, mainly due to low national productivity and the lack of strong market reform work.
The prime minister, however, said ongoing economic reforms and improvements in domestic productivity have helped reduce the general inflation rate to 28 percent, from its record high of 35.1 percent in November 2022.
Ahmed said job creation is one of his government's priorities in line with the mounting employment demand as a result of the country's burgeoning youth population. According to him, more than 1 million jobs were created during the first half of the current Ethiopian fiscal year.
When responding to questions on the country's external debt, Ahmed said Ethiopia has achieved great success by paying off 9.9 billion U.S. dollars of external debt during the past five years. He said the external debt, which was 32 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, has now decreased to 17 percent, and various efforts are currently underway to further minimize the country's debt-to-GDP ratio below 10 percent.
With regard to regional economic integration, Ahmed stressed the Ethiopian government's strong support to strengthen economic integration, with particular emphasis given to energy integration. Ethiopia currently exports electric power to Kenya, Sudan and Djibouti. ■