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Policymaking Should Widen Its Scope

May 29 , 2021
By Halima Abate (MD) ( Halima Abate (MD) is a public health professional with over a decade of experience. She can be reached at )

Public policy initiation, formulation, implementation, and evaluation is a complex, dynamic and constantly evolving interactive and adaptive system in which a multitude of stakeholders, actors, and institutions, both formal and informal, coexist. Leaders exert vigilant efforts, and checks and balances to bridge the gap of values and to ensure the effective operation of public policies to meet the engine of social well-being.

Ethiopia has been undergoing such a balancing act over the past three years as several legal and economic policies are re-drafted. Policymakers and drafters have undergone many reforms and trade-offs aiming to increase accountability, efficiency, effectiveness and value for money. The complexity of society requires complex legislations demanding complex applications and business processes to implement it.

At the same time, the societal expectations of public service have by no means diminished. The presence of constant pressure in public administration to modernise executions and meet societal demands calls for an integrated view of policymaking and implementation.

The engagement of actors with different levels of interaction processes depends mainly on the resources they possess and the importance of these resources in the policy process. Consideration of a multitude of approaches to have a major outcome, either harmonious or conflicting of decision making, might be available where policy networks are crucial. A policy network is a cluster of arrangements connected to each other with the aim of influencing and promoting the best progressive thinking on the major social, political, and economic challenges of the country.

Policy networks are described as stable patterns of social relationships between interdependent actors, which take shape around policy problems or policy programs, and that are being formed, reproduced, and changed by an ecology of games through strategic behaviour. Thus, the network is an interaction system, visualised as the cumulative effect of all the connected agendas to formulate a normative basis in the policy arena. Magnifying the collaboration to organise, communicate and coordinate the operation is useful to pave the way towards the institutionalisation of the process within networks.

Commonly, the policy networks were used to indicate that policymaking occurred in a close relationship between interest groups and governmental agencies. As the policy network consists of a pattern of relations, institutionalisation is quite essential to achieve the desired collective goals and sustain the resources that constitute the network.

In Ethiopia, exploring the advantage of the policy network indeed matters and contributes to understanding policy processes and their implementation in contemporary society, where it enhances the effectiveness of implementation, what government can properly and successfully do and how it can do these with the utmost possible resources. Though the concept of policy network is a useful tool for dynamic analysis of policymaking, it should have regulations formulated and bound with organisational structures accustomed to changing social relationships.

Ethiopia has a long history of policy inconsistency, where laws are sometimes changed after the fact or sometimes in response to political calculations. This has harmed the doing business environment and contributed to a lack of predictability for entrepreneurs and investors. This is why it is crucial to invest in institutions where policymaking becomes non-arbitrary, proactive and rule-based.

PUBLISHED ON May 29,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1100]

Halima Abate (MD) is a public health professional with over a decade of experience. She can be reached at

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