New railway links Addis Ababa with Djibouti

Monday, March 27, 2017

by Business Council for Africa

The recent opening of the Addis Ababa – Djibouti modern electric railway by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, which links the capital of landlocked Ethiopia with the port of Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden, is expected to transform connections across the region and to global trade routes.

The 752 kilometre track, Africa’s first standard – gauge international railway, will more than half journey times. When commercial services start using the line, the transport time of a container from Addis Ababa to Djibouti should reduce from three days to twelve hours, with costs coming down by a third. More than 95 percent of Ethiopia’s foreign trade passes through Djibouti.

The new line was built between 2011 and 2016 by the China Railway Group and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation. Financing for the new line was provided by the Exim Bank of China. A total of US $4 billion was invested in the railway with the objective of facilitating mobility and trade and transforming Djibouti into an East African gateway to the world.

The new railway is linked with the US $15 billion infrastructure expansion programme, led by the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority (DPFZA), which will expand Djibouti’s port facilities while constructing new highways and airports as a major boost to the country’s economy.

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Patrick Orr