Yemen Strategic Vision 2025 [Archives:2000/35/Business & Economy]

August 28 2000

Imad Al-Saqqaf
Taiz Bureau Chief
Yemen in 1995
Since 1995, Yemen has been going through hard economic challenges determined by some local, regional and international political and economic factors. The most prominent of those challenges was the return of more than 1 million emigrants from the Gulf area. It has created a number of disorders in economic and financial balances in general.
That had caused a drop in the citizens living standard, an increase in private and government spending, price hikes, deterioration of currency exchange rates, drop in the purchasing power of the people. The government had therefore implemented a comprehensive program for economic, financial and administrative reform beginning from the end of 1994 aimed at restoring the balance and achieving economic stability by applying a group of economic, financial and monetary policies.
Following this and from 1995, drafts of the first five-year-plan (1996-2000) were worked out. Some of the objectives of that plan were to take quick measures and steps to ensure economic and social development and to improve the living condition of the people. Many parties expected that that plan would relieve the economic crisis at the time. However, at the end of the plan the ordinary man could see no positive results of the plan, though the government kept boasting of decrease in inflation, stability of the riyal exchange rate and decrease in state budget deficit to satisfactory levels.
The Ministry of Planning is preparing Yemens strategic vision for the coming 25 years. We hereby outline how the new strategy views Yemens situation in 2000 and how it assesses the situation of the year 2025.

Yemen in 2000
1) Population
During 2000, the Yemeni population is 18,316 million. However, by 2025 it will reach more 42 million. This high population growth is main challenge against achieving a comprehensive development in society. The Yemeni woman is characterized by its strong fertility. Demographic survey in 1997 showed that 37% of births happen over an interval of less than 2 years and that 35% of women become pregnant before they reach 20 or after 35 which makes the overall fertility of women very high.
The volume of labor force has increased from 3,4 million in 1994 to 4,6 million in 2000. By 2025, it will reach 14,2 million. Women constitute one fourth of this force and are 47% of the population with age group ranging between 15 and over. Despite the fact that there is a rapid increase in the peoples migration to towns, 76% of the population are still living in he countryside.
Illiteracy is estimated at 56%, 76% females and 37% males. The rate of those who joined primary schools is 67% of the people, of which 96% female and 87% male with age group of 6-15 years. It is expected that there would be an increase in students enrolling for education which necessitates new seats in schools for more than 3,2 million students in 2000 and 7,2 million in 2025. Therefore, schools are to increase from 13,200 to 21, 600. Similarly, teachers are to increase from 140 thousand in 2000 to 206,000 in 2025.
Despite the big growth in university education, in 2000 universities have increased to 7 state universities and 8 private ones. Students studying at these universities are 197,000, of which 42 thousand are females.
There is a quantitative as well as qualitative deterioration in health services. Services provided in this field meet the needs of only 40% of the population. Beds in hospitals are not more than 11,365 meaning that one bed for 1600 people. The redoubling of population requires the building of more than 22 hospitals and increasing the number of doctors to 35,000 by 2025 in comparison with 3800 doctors in 2000. The number of nurses has also to be increased from 7306 to 105,000 by 2025.
Yemen is considered to be one of the poorest countries in the world. Average annual per capita income amounts to $ 350, that is, less than one dollar per day. The government also suffers from weak institutions, unqualified staff, lack of incentives, lack of resources and a high level of unemployment.

The new strategy revealed that it is important to undertake the following articles:
* Long term treatment vision that should be regularly controlled and reviewed through medium range plans.
* Mobilize all economic and social resources to overcome the difficult stages through comprehensive treatment measures.
* Combining traditional treatments and innovation while confirming the special characteristics of the Yemeni economy and society.
Yemen strategic vision 2025 aims at transferring Yemen into the medium income economies group with a variable economy and social, cultural and political development.
The Ministry of Planning has organized many seminars in the main cities to discuss the vision to enhance the peoples participation. The first seminar was held in Aden for the strategic vision of Aden, Lahj, Abyan and Dhalea. The second was held in Taiz in the presence of the Planning Minister and Taiz and Ibb governors. The meeting was to draw up a strategic vision for Taiz, Ibb and Al-Bayda. The seminar which was held under the motto For a Developed Economy and Better Life for the People ended before its time owing to electricity cut. Planning Minister talked at the outset of the seminar about the strategic vision 2025 and said Economically speaking, Yemen is deemed to be among the poorest countries. Although three decades have passed since Yemen started its economic and development process, it is still labeled among the twenty less developed countries in the world. Last year the overall gross national product was $ 6,44 million and the population 17,7 million. Therefore the individual share of the gross national product was $ 350 only. This miserable condition and deterioration in the individual share, besides other problems that flowed out from this condition including unemployment, abject poverty, weak production, make all of us beat the band to make use of the resources of the country to develop the peoples way of living and to achieve prosperity and welfare of the society.
Water and population are the most crucial and pending issues that urgently need to be addressed. We are at two options; either to continue following the same policies and steps which may lead by 2025 to a catastrophe or to join all efforts to implement the vision.
Dr. Ahmad M. Al-Durwish presented a paper outlining water vision by 2025 pointing out that Yemen was deemed as one of the driest countries. The paper suggested that to solve this crisis national efforts are to be joined so as to found a basic basis for administrating water resources. Efforts are also to be exerted to raise the awareness of people to make a rational use of water.

Another paper was presented by Mr. Hamid Al-Mutawakel talking about the National development in the strategic vision. He said We can never achieve any objectives of the 2025 vision unless it is associated with social development. Therefore, the point is to control the huge increase in population.
The new strategy has the objective of increasing social health services to more than 90%, consequently requiring radical changes. That is, the number of physicians have to increase 7 times their number now, the number of nurses 15 times. This will also require expanding water network and sewage system net.
In education, the strategy stated that education is indispensable for all the citizens. It aims at increasing the female and male enrollment, especially in countryside.
It also enhances the role of women in the social as well as political life. As regards the technical education, the strategy indicates that it is important to change its existing order so as to qualify a competent and well-qualified cadre.

A paper on culture and politics in connection to the strategy was presented by Dr. Dawood Othman. Another paper on the strategic vision for agriculture was presented by Dr. Abdulwahed Othman. Dr. Abudlsalam al-Jawfi, vice president of Ibb University, presented a paper suggesting some points of importance for Ibb governorate. He said that the agricultural filed is very essential for the people in the governorate. It constitutes 65% of their income. Therefore, it is prudent to give this field the attention needed. The paper also talked about the tourist factors that Ibb is distinguished by.

YT met with the governor of Ibb, Mr. Abdulkader Ali Helal, who talked about the seminar and said Holding seminars in governorates is a sure signal of the government commitment to apply the local authority law. These seminars will mold the future. Academicians participation in these seminars prove that we are moving in the right path of applying the scientific approach. If the ministry is interested in an effective implementation of the new strategy, the governorates have to get more authority and to apply the local authority law which will create an atmosphere of competition among all the governorates.

The planning office in Taiz prepared the strategic vision for 2025 for Taiz governorate. However, the funny thing was that electricity went out and the office was not able to present the paper. The paper revealed some points of which are the following: The overall area of Taiz was 9610 km2 which is extended over 18 districts and 234 provinces. In 1994 census, Taiz population reached 1,881,960. It is expected that the number will accelerate to 6,348,102 by 2025. Taiz is a tense populated area. It is distinguished for its qualified and specialized cadre and the highest level of education. It is an important center for industries. It is rich with mineral wealth that is to be made use of. The governorate is also distinguished for its attractive historical sites, beautiful sea shores including Al-Khawkha, al-Maka and al-Qahera Fort which could be transferred to magnificent and awe inspiring tourist site.
One of the difficulties that the city faces is the shortage of water which so far has not been solved. Unemployment and the increasing number of families below the poverty line, are also some other problems that the people of Taiz suffer.

In a statement Mr. Mutaher al-Abasi, deputy planning minister, told YT that there are essential differences between the first five-year plan and the new plan. The former was made at a turbulent economic stage after 1994 war. It was focused on pushing the economic development. One of the strategic factors was to increase the individuals income and to treat the economic tribulations and to promote the human resources level. The application of the plan coincided with the implementation of the economic, financial and administrative reform program which started in 1995. The plan was quite a success in all the economic, financial and monetary fields. There were also many projects implemented in different sectors including health, education, electricity and roads, though the individuals income remains low. However, it will change in course of time. The new plan is complementary to the first plan. However, the only difference is that many governorates participated in the preparation of the second plan.
As regards the poverty issue, Mr. al-Abasi said There are many programs in terms of social security net for combating poverty including the Social Care Fund, Social Development Fund and Public Works Project. The private sector, civil society organizations and Social Solidarity System have also to play a role in this.
Now the tendency is to train and qualify the poor on different activities so as to depend on themselves rather than giving them money. The main problems facing the Yemeni economy are of population and that of water.
Dr. al-Abasi talking about resources other than oil that can be used to raise the individuals income and said There are other resources, if used well, they may make radical changes including tourism and fish wealth. There is also a focus on information technology and industry as a major alternative as there are many restraints shackling the agricultural field.
Dr. al-Abasi talking about his view of Yemen by 2025 said The vision indicated that Yemen will move from low-income to medium income developed countries.