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Longest Electrified Railroad in Africa Begins Commercial Operation

Jan. 18, 2018 (EIRNS)—The Chinese-built 758 km-long electric rail line between Addis Ababa and Djibouti City began commercial operations on Jan. 1, carrying both commuters and cargo: the first trans-border and longest electrified railroad in Africa. It will cut the travel time from around three days to 10 hours, Global Rail News reported today.

Two Chinese companies—China Railway Engineering Corp. and China Civil Engineering Construction Corp.—built the railway, which underwent trials under another Chinese firm, China Association of Railway Engineering Construction, for about a year, Global Rail reported. The total contract investment, according to China’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Tan Jian, was $3.8 billion.

Ambassador Tan put flesh on those important, but dry facts in his speech at the official New Year’s Day opening ceremony, where he was joined by three Ethiopian cabinet ministers, Djibouti’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Mehammed Edriss Farah, and representatives of the Chinese and Ethiopian corporations involved.

“The Addis to Djibouti Railway is more than transportation. It is also about improving business environment, about developing the economic corridor. A lot of industry parks have been built along the line. This railway will contribute to the industrialization of Ethiopia, contribute to the implementation of the Growth and Transformation Plan. It can and will make a big difference!”

Ambassador Tan noted that there will be challenges in the immediate months ahead, such as assuring a stable supply of electricity, and safety and security along the route, but the three countries are prepared, and

“the Chinese companies stand ready to share technology know-how and expertise, help develop human resources and build capacity in the railway area.”

“The Addis Ababa to Djibouti Railway is an early harvest project of the Belt and Road Initiative. In advancing the Belt and Road initiative, we are guided by the principle of planning together; building together; and benefiting together. This Railway is a rail of development; a rail of cooperation; and a rail of friendship. It is a flagship project and the single largest cooperation project between China and Ethiopia.

“Our cooperation could be a role model of south-south cooperation,”

he suggested.