“Ethiopia’s internal conflict in the Tigray region risks unraveling years of economic and social progress, at a time when weak revenues and elevated external vulnerability as a result of the global coronavirus crisis is already pressuring creditworthiness,” says Kevin Dalrymple, sovereign analyst at Moody’s.

The Horn of Africa country, home to the continent’s second largest population, had been on a decades-long reform which had seen the country overcome its years of economic upheaval and famine during the 1980s under the Marxist Derg regime, to become one of the world’s fastest-growing nations this century. The country’s economy grew by an average of 10.8% between 2004 and 2014.

At the start of 2020, Quartz Africa noted the one-time miracle economy was slowing and set for a bumpy ride, but the economic crisis in the wake of the pandemic has undoubtedly been much more challenging and the IMF slashed its growth forecast to 3.2% from 6.2%.

But all this was before recent events challenging its federal political system led the country to a point where there is a real chance any economic growth will be unlikely if some of its largest or most powerful regions are at war with each other or with the national government.

“The way in which the current crises between the federal government and the TPLF are managed will no doubt set a precedent for future federal-regional interaction,” says Ann Fitz-Gerald, a director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs and a veteran of previous internally sponsored peace talks in the region. “Such a precedent must be careful to avoid the risk instability mounting in other regional states and/or invite similar levels of regional security structures elsewhere.”

The ongoing situation will leave the Ethiopian government with few options to manage the economy, says Fitz-Gerald:  “Already faced with the impact of a weak global economy, a predatory financial model underpinning Chinese investment in the country and high levels of debt acquired over the past decade, ongoing instability without prioritizing rule of law will limit foreign direct investment and the few levers of the country had to navigate through the crises.”

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