Documenting the Political and Economic Change of Ethiopia

Brazilian photographer Felipe Fittipaldi travels to Ethiopia to unveil one of the African continent’s most remarkable rising economies and take a look at all the varying consequences that have come with the country’s unprecedented transformation.


Ethiopia now boasts Africa's fastest growing economy. A country that in the 1980s and 1990s had experienced severe famine crises due to drought and war, is witnessing the greatest transformation of its recent history, with economic growth around 10% and one of the highest rates of urbanisation in the world. Ethiopia has also sought peace with its longtime adversary, Eritrea; freed prisoners; opened access to websites and television channels that it had blocked for political reasons; and invited banned political organisations and their leaders to return from exile.

This unprecedented and rapid change comes against a more disconcerting backdrop of unrest, placing a massive strain on established political, economic, and social systems. Despite the impressive growth and modernisation, Ethiopia is still one of the poorest countries in the world and full of social contrasts, where nomadic shepherds with their Kalashnikov rifles live only a few miles from modern neighbourhoods in the capital Addis Ababa.

As a multi-ethnic giant with around 100 million people belonging to more than 80 ethnic groups and under a questionable democratic system, the country is at a crucial moment in which society will have to deal with complex issues such as massive rural exodus, political freedom, and ethnic tensions. This essay looks to portray the multiple faces of Ethiopia in its rapid and disorderly social and cultural transformation. Apparently, in a short time, Ethiopia will no longer be as before.

Words and Pictures by .







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Felipe Fittipaldi is a Brazilian photographer currently based in Rio de Janeiro. He works with numerous international newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, El País, and Vice, among others. In 2018, he was selected by the World Press Photo Foundation for the second edition of the 6x6 Global Talent Program. Find him on PHmuseum and Instagram.

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This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

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