The government's long-term economic development strategy – Agricultural-Development-Led-Industrialization (ADLI) – is geared to the transformation of the economic structure. The strategy involves an export-led external sector, and internal emphasis on agriculture to supply commodities for exports, domestic food supply and industrial output, and expand markets for domestic manufacturing. The development strategy is supported by an economic reform program developed in cooperation with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and by a series of structural adjustment programmes. There have been major gains from the reform programme, and from liberalization of the economy, including low inflation, fiscal discipline and low government borrowing, infrastructure improvement and the growth of the private sector after a privatization program was initiated in 1995 under which a majority of former government-owned firms have been denationalized.
The current Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), finalized in November 2010, was built on the implementation of previous poverty reduction strategies, the Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction Program for 2002/03−2004/5 and the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty for 2005/06−2009/10 (PASDEP) which laid out the directions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and the basis for Ethiopia to reach ‘middle-income' status by 2020−25. In March 2012, the IMF said Ethiopia would achieve this earlier if its rapid growth continued.
PASDEP provided for substantial progress in the provision of social services such as education, health and infrastructure through investing in physical and human capital formation and allocating over 60% of the budget to pro-poor expenditure. The spending on poverty-targeted sectors (both recurrent and capital) steadily increased during this period rising from 42.0% of total expenditure in 2002/03 to over 64% and this has continued. The effects were visible in significantly improved education and healthcare services. Primary school net enrolment rose from 77 percent in 2004/05 to 82 percent in 2009/10, and is now over 96%; completion rates also increased steadily. Secondary enrolment also rose steadily. Tertiary level education increased sharply. The proportion of fully immunized children rose from 20 percent in 2006 to 66 percent in 2010; the percentage of births attended by healthcare workers increased from 16 percent to 29 percent during the same period. In 2005 the maternal mortality was 871 per 100,000 births; this declined to 590/100,000 by 2010. Under-five child deaths fell from 200/2000 to 75/2000 in 2009. Health service coverage increased from 30% to 89% during PASDEP.
In 2004, Ethiopian GDP (Gross Domestic Product) was about 63% of Kenyan GDP and 4.6% of South African GDP; by 2009, the comparison was 97% and 10.1% respectively. Per capita income had increased from $138 to $344 in 2009. In 2009/2010 the economy grew by 10.4%, compared to the estimated growth rate of 6.0% for all Sub-Saharan Africa. Agriculture and allied activities contributed 30% to the increase while the service and industry sectors provided 56% and 13% respectively. Inflationary pressure continued to ease due to prudent monetary and fiscal policies and other government measures, and annual average inflation dropped to 2.8% in June 2010 against 36.4% a year earlier. It has since fluctuated sharply, rising sharply in 2011 and remaining a serious problem in 2012.