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HomeOpinionC2E  : Copy To Ethiopia (By Tewodros Gezhagn)

C2E  : Copy To Ethiopia (By Tewodros Gezhagn)

Ethiopia _ Technology
Image source : Britannica

By : Tewodros Gezhagn (PhD.)

Ethiopia, a nation with a rich cultural heritage and ancient history, is also recognizing the significance of scientific and technological advancements in today’s rapidly evolving global landscape. To achieve success and flourish like other advanced countries, Ethiopia needs to craft a clear strategy based on successful examples of imitation. While it may seem challenging to compile a comprehensive list of areas where Ethiopia lags behind, it is important to recognize that Ethiopia also has much to share with the rest of the world. As Oscar Wilde’s proverb suggests, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” highlighting the importance of copying as a compliment and an act of admiration. However, some countries go beyond mere imitation and become innovators. Before delving into why Ethiopia should embrace imitation, let’s explore the accomplishments of some nations.

1. South Korea: The Art of Emulation

South Korea’s journey towards becoming a global technological powerhouse is a remarkable testament to the power of emulation. As an example, the nation started by wisely copying America’s nuclear technology, eventually transforming into a leading exporter of nuclear capabilities. Similarly, Samsung, one of South Korea’s renowned companies, began its journey by emulating and improving upon foreign electronic designs.

This culture of imitation, combined with relentless innovation, allowed South Korea to transition from a war-torn nation into an industrial and technological force to be reckoned with. This success can be attributed to the government’s unwavering support for acquiring foreign technology, commitment to research and development, and strategic policies that propelled the nation’s growth.

As a result, South Korea quickly dominated various industries, competing on a global scale. With a keen eye for improvement and a culture that values learning from others, South Korea has transformed itself into an innovation hub, showcasing how determined emulation, coupled with passion and resourcefulness, can pave the way for incredible achievements in technology.

2. USA: Building on a Foundation of Innovation

The United States has emerged as a global powerhouse of innovation through a combination of factors, including learning from others, utilizing expertise from different countries, and evolving from a mindset of copying to one of innovating. In its early years, the USA did draw inspiration from the ideas and inventions of other nations. For instance, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the influx of German migrants brought valuable expertise and knowledge, contributing significantly to industrial and scientific advancements in the country. The American approach initially involved observing and replicating successful models from abroad.

However, it was during the Second World War that the USA transitioned from being primarily a copycat to becoming a hotbed of innovation. The war forced the nation to mobilize and rapidly develop technological advancements, which led to transformative changes in various fields. By harnessing the potential of its own brilliant minds and collaborating with experts from abroad, such as German scientists like Wernher von Braun, who played a key role in the development of the American space program, the USA began fostering a culture of innovation.

This shift from copying to innovating was crucial as it allowed the USA to establish its own unique identity in the field of technology and scientific discovery. By building upon the knowledge acquired from others and adding their own creative and inventive touch, American innovators and entrepreneurs propelled the nation to the forefront of global innovation. This approach not only spurred economic growth but also stimulated groundbreaking advancements in various sectors, including aviation, electronics, computing, medicine, and more.

Copying, in its early stages, played a formative role in shaping the innovative capacity of the United States. However, it was the nation’s ability to adapt, absorb knowledge from different sources, and foster an environment conducive to creativity and originality that ultimately made it a leading power in the world of innovation.

3. China: copy to China

The “copy to China” strategy, also known as “China’s copycat approach” or “reverse engineering,” refers to the practice of studying and replicating successful business models, technologies, or products from other countries, particularly developed economies.

This strategy is often associated with China’s rapid industrialization and economic growth over the past few decades. In the early stages of its economic development, China relied heavily on imitating and adopting foreign technologies and products to accelerate its progress. This approach allowed Chinese companies to quickly catch up with global competitors by producing similar or identical goods at a lower cost.

It’s important to note that while the “copy to China” strategy has been successful in driving China’s economic growth, it has also faced criticism for intellectual property infringement and lack of originality. Nevertheless, as China’s innovation capabilities continue to evolve, the focus is shifting toward developing indigenous technologies and fostering homegrown innovation.

4. Ethiopia: Unleashing Potential through “Clear Strategy !”

Ethiopia, a country with immense potential, has the opportunity to catch up with other advanced nations by embracing innovation and charting a clear path forward. One starting point could be to learn from successful products developed elsewhere and adapt them for the local market. A business strategy like “copy to Ethiopia” could help jump-start the innovation ecosystem.

However, it is important to address the challenges that hinder progress. Ethiopia currently has a leader who exhibits dictator-like tendencies and lacks knowledge about science and technology advancements. While being a dictator may not necessarily be detrimental, acting like a know-it-all without understanding the importance of science and technology can be detrimental to the country’s growth.

Furthermore, there are apparent issues within key institutions. The Ministry of Innovation seems to lack genuine progress, and universities are marred by corruption. Industries struggle to become leaders in their respective fields, and sectors like agriculture and mining face significant challenges.

To overcome these obstacles, Ethiopia must have a comprehensive strategy that covers all aspects of development. It should focus on emulating successful practices from other countries in various domains like politics, science and technology, tourism, peace-building, education, and entrepreneurial skills. Such a strategy should be led by professionals who understand the intricacies of each field, rather than relying solely on politicians. 

Some key aspects of the possible “Copy to Ethiopia” strategy might include:

1. Studying and analyzing: Ethiopia needs to invest significant resources in studying successful foreign business models, technologies, or products. Meticulously analyze and understand the underlying principles and processes behind these innovations.

2. Reverse engineering: Once the knowledge is acquired, Ethiopian firms must engage in reverse engineering. This involves dissecting and examining foreign products or technologies to replicate them or develop similar ones with comparable functionalities.

3. Adaptation and localization: If possible, modify and adapt the copied products or technologies to suit the needs of the domestic market. Incorporate features and design elements that resonate with Ethiopian consumers, making them accessible and appealing.

4. Cost-effective production: One significant advantage might be the ability to produce goods at lower costs. Ethiopia’s manufacturing capabilities, supply chains, and competitive labor costs can enable companies to mass-produce copied products and technologies on a large scale.

5. Rapid iteration and improvement: Continuously iterate and improve upon the copied models by leveraging feedback and market insights. This agile approach allows companies to enhance original designs or develop innovative variations, eventually leading to the creation of unique “Made in Ethiopia” products.

By incorporating innovation, fostering collaboration, and pursuing a clear vision for the future, Ethiopia can work towards becoming a leader in multiple areas. With the right strategy and dedicated professionals, the country has the potential to overcome its current limitations and embark on a path of progress and prosperity.

Conclusion: The Bold Statement

To unleash its full potential, the Ethiopian government must prioritize copying as a legitimate strategy for development. By openly embracing and adapting proven concepts, Ethiopia can leapfrog into a new era of innovation, economic growth, and social progress. This approach requires strategic partnerships, investment in research and development, and building an enabling environment for homegrown entrepreneurship. Only by being focused and forward-thinking in our copying strategy can Ethiopia pave the way for a sustainable and prosperous future.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of  


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  1. 1). ሐሳቦ ጥሩ ነው! ኢትዮጵያም ሆነ ውጪ ሐገር – የገጠሙኝን አብዛኛዎቹን ኢትዮጵያውያ(ን/ት) የማውቃቸው – ተጠላልፎ በመውደቅ – እንጂ – ተፈቃቅሮ እና ተባብሮ በመድመቅ – አይደለም!

    2). Ethiopia needs foreign currency for technology, infrastructure, automation, skilled manpower, etc. Proxy Wars via Proxy Dogs make attracting foreign investment difficult.

    3). The Ethiopian intelligentsia is doing its best against all odds: salary, funds, materials, technology, infrastructure, etc. They could have opted to live & work in the West, too!

    4). Abiy & Technology: Under Abiy, Ethiopia’s tech sector has shown a huge leap. He also encourages creativity & productivity:

    5). Let’s stop shooting Ethiopia in the foot & blaming Abiy! ≈80% of Ethiopians abroad are former rulers/flunkeys/awardees. All they want is “All-Inclusive Transitional Gov’t” to grab power without elections. They just shed their crocodile tears, pay lip service, etc.


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