Africa’s first electric rail to kick start in Ethiopia

Africa’s first electric rail to kick start in Ethiopia

Oct 5, 2016: Ethiopia will launch Africa’s first modern electrified railway line, which links the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti. The full length of the railway is 752.7 kilometers and will travel at a speed of 120 km per hour. With a total investment of $4 billion, it was built by China Railway Group and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

When the new railway becomes operational, transport time from Djibouti to the Ethiopian capital will be reduced from 7 days to 10 hours. Besides faster transport, the Chinese firms have an even greater ambition. The railway will now serve as a catalyst for Ethiopia’s national economic development. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway is only one of many major projects currently under way in the framework of China-Africa cooperation. For the Chinese contractors, the construction of a railway with a designed speed of 120 km per hour is not difficult. But it takes nothing short of a great feat to complete it with no compromise on quality and timeliness when there are inadequate construction materials and technical staff in Ethiopia. The modern standard-gauge Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway runs parallel to a decrepit meter-gauge version built over 100 years ago by Europeans. Over 90 percent of Ethiopia’s imports and exports, in particular energy and food, are made via the sea port of Djibouti. The capacity of the current road system has long been overwhelmed. When the new railway becomes operational, transport time from Djibouti to the Ethiopian capital will be reduced from 7 days to ten hours. Besides faster transport, the Chinese firms have an even greater ambition. That is, the railway will serve as a catalyst for Ethiopia’s national economic development. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway is only one of many major projects currently under way in the framework of China-Africa cooperation. For the Chinese contractors, the construction of a railway with a designed speed of 120 km per hour is not difficult. But it takes nothing short of a great feat to complete it with no compromise on quality and timeliness when there are inadequate construction materials and technical staff in Ethiopia.

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