The developmental state experience in Ethiopia and Rwanda : lessons for Libya?

Libya’s present complicated transitional situation offers an opportunity to discuss a new
state model which is less path-dependent and more reflective of the country’s long-term peace and
development needs. Libyans have an opportunity to choose between the liberal market-led model, the
developmental state model or the welfare state model as an in-between. They may also choose to blend
and harmonise elements from different models that they find most suitable to the particularity of the
Libyan context.
Among these options, what would be the advantages and disadvantages of the developmental state
model in addressing the challenges Libya is currently facing? What lessons can Libya learn from the
experience of developmental states, particularly countries such as Rwanda and Ethiopia? Although
they are different in many ways, these two countries have gone through post-war/post-genocide
stabilisation and reconstruction processes, and by applying the developmental state model have
achieved fast economic growth.
Building upon the developmental state trajectories in the cases of pre-2018 Ethiopia and Rwanda, the
paper argues that, if Libya is to enjoy peace, prosperity and democracy, it can benefit from more, not
less, state intervention.
Establishing an efficient and effective state would one of the vital tasks in Libya’s transition. It could
significantly contribute to rapid peacebuilding and development. The peacebuilding and state-building
process would require a normative framework and a high state capability to restore law and order,
stability and effective socio-economic institutions that can allocate public resources, make and enforce
laws and adjudicate disputes.
In Libya, the developmental state model may take the form of post-conflict reconstruction and
development plans with the aim of stabilisation, state building, and democratisation. In the current
context, developmental state would relate to the sequence of actions that would place appropriate stress
on security, resource governance, development, and democracy. However, in order to achieve these
objectives, key requirements would need to be met, including political agreement on the development
model and political legitimacy of its implementors.

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