Yes, Ethiopia ‘the fastest growing economy globally’ – but it’s all in the details

Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Kenya

Organisation: Africa Check

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 17/12/2019

Credit: Mr. Samuel Kisika, Mr. Alphonce Shiundu

Project description:

The project sought to establish the truth behind the claim made by a renowned analyst and president of African Policy Institute, a Nairobi-based geopolitical think tank, Dr. Peter Kagwanja, that Ethiopia found in the Horn of Africa was the fastest growing economy in the world. Dr. Kagwanja made the claim during a morning talk show on world economies on one of Kenya’s major television channel. I sought to pursue the claim as he stated that, “Ethiopia is the fastest growing economy globally” by doing depth research and interviewing economists from reputable organizations for their views on the claim.  

Impact reached:

 The in depth fact-checking project helped to get rid of the source misinforming the public from the claim after establishing that indeed Ethiopia was the fastest growing economy in the world. We live in the era of fake news and fact-checking claims made by people holding leadership positions is important not only to hold them accountable but also to keep the public well-informed. The project put Ethiopia, a country that has been bediveled by disasters such as drought and starvation in recent past, on the global arena among world economic giants like China, India, US, among others, that always realize rapid economic growth. This enables prospective investors around the world to look at Ethiopia as a possible investment hub in Africa in addition to countries in the continent looking at it for benchmarking on how their economy can move upward. The expert views by economists and scholars from reputable organizations in the world such as IMF and World Bank enabled Ethiopia’s leadership to put into consideration issues raised particularly sectors that need to be opened up for the country’s economic growth to rise further. The project saw Africa Check gain more followers both on its site and social media handles as a trusted non-profit media organization that separates the truth from falsehoods.

Techniques/technologies used:

In depth researching through fact-checking the validity of the claim was the main techinque used. The lengthy process of fact-checking involved digging between piles of global economic reports by reputable organizations such as the International Monetray Fund and World Bank for the last ten years of Ethiopia’s economic growth to arrive at a more accurate conclusion. Interviewing economists and scholars from reputable institutions with vast knowledge on world economies was another technique used in fact-checking. Interviewing involved phone calls and emails. I used my laptop and internet for researching  and included hyperlinks to numerous reports from organizations and quoted in the story. I also used photos (courtesy) in the story showing Ethiopians going about their economic activities. I further used the explainer technique to make clear certain concepts that my readers might not understand such as why many Ethiopians are still struggling to make ends meet despite their country realizing an outstanding economic growth globally.      

What was the hardest part of this project?

The hardest part was looking at data on Ethiopia’s economic growth over a period of 10 years in fact-checking to come up with a more accurate verdict on the claim. It was so demanding a process going through numerous reports and comparing Ethiopia’s figures with all world countries over the 10-year period. Finding economists with fast knowledge on economies of African coiuntries was also the hardest part and this made the project to take months before its completion for publication. The jury need to apprise themselves on economies of African countries and the world since Ethiopia isn’t the biggest economy even among regional nations despite being the fastest growing economy. The project should be considered for selection because it sought to give the public reliable (fact-checked) information which can also be used as an authority by researchers in this era of fake news. 

What can others learn from this project?

This fact-checked information is useful for others to differentiated between the truth and falsehoods propagated by various people in leadership positions. This information helps other people learn how researching and fact-checking in important in establishing the truth from claims made to hold leaders accountable and the public to remain well-informed. The project helps the world to know the status of economic growth of various countries whether in developing or developed nations. For instance, the remarkable economic growth by Ethiopia globally can easily attract investors around the globe to invest in various sectors thus spurring its growth further. The project enables journalists and researchers to appreciate the importance of fact-checking claims to rid fake news consumed by many people. The misinformation makes the public to make wrong decisions and end up regretting. The project enables other people understand how data-driven journalism is important in arriving at the truth from the claim made.      

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