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State led modernization of the Ethiopian sugar industry questions of power and agency in lowland transformation.pdf (2.02 MB)

State-led modernization of the Ethiopian sugar industry: questions of power and agency in lowland transformation

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journal contribution
submitted on 2023-09-10, 06:07 and posted on 2023-09-10, 10:27 authored by Yidneckachew Ayele Zikargie, Poul Wisborg, Logan Cochrane

This article critically analyses the history of the Ethiopian sugar industry, with emphasis on drivers, decision-making and processes of incorporation and exclusion aiming to transform lowlands. We argue that the government has used a state-led modernization and expansion of the sugar industry to consolidate the power of central governments. Through the creation of sugar-based agribusinesses, the changing regimes have sought to extend their control over natural resources, increase the movement of labour, and stimulate economic growth. This has led to deepened state structures and considerable transformation of power relations, causing marginalization of the affected communities. In Ethiopia’s post-2018 political and economic transition, this modernist and expansionist programme found itself in a set of deep economic and financial crises, leading to government initiatives to privatize the sugar industry. In response to the privatization initiatives, local elites articulate and contest the historical process of marginalization and compete in demanding redress for the adverse incorporation of the communities. They do so to expand the community space for agency and enforce their interests in gaining from, and perhaps dominating a privatization process through takeover strategies. The past modernist development approach that caused marginalization is likely to affect a new stage of lowland transformation.

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Published in: Journal of Eastern African Studies
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Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library.



  • English


Taylor & Francis

Publication Year

  • 2022

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Public Policy - HBKU

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