BY Amina Accram
Ethiopia will operate its first trans -boundary railway network in May this year.
The railway links Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to Djibouti in the north.
The landlocked country will utilise the new railway infrastructure for both cargo freight and passenger rail.
It will also massively boost its economy as Djibouti is the busiest port in the horn of Africa. Ethiopia says the project cost more than 4 billion dollars.
It partnered with China, Turkey and other countries to get loans and get the project completed.
Ethiopia has forged ahead with plans to build a trans-African railway line.
China a key partner in Africa’s infrastructure build programme has laid the foundation for a shorter and faster version of the Cape-Cairo rail line.
China’s version will begin with a line that runs from Ethiopia and South Sudan to the Great Lakes states in the South.
Ethiopia has already started this project and has just completed its first cross boarder railway line that links to Djibouti.
Project manager for the Ethiopia Railway Corporation, Mekonnen Getschew, says: “This project is a fully electrified and environmentally project and it’s constructed by three phases and the whole 656 km is within the Ethiopian boarder and the other 100 km is in the Djibouti boarder and total cost is 3.4 billion USD for the 656km and 450 million USD in the Djibouti side. Now the project is already completed and now we are on the trail basis.”
The project manager says the railway line project was completed on time.
“We have a total of 16 stations up to Djibouti port. These are the wagons, passenger wagons, wagons for containers, old tank wagons, a total of 1171 components have already been imported and now after two months we are ready to start”
The new rail line will help with skills and job creation.
“We already have capacity in Addis Ababa University to also 250 railway engineers in three different categories and middle level technicians are also capacitated, in the last four years during the construction we worked with the Chinese companies , the Turkish company and we have capacitated ourselves and from now onwards we have developed experience”
A total of 14 African countries do not have total railway network.
Ethiopia plans to construct another 5 000 kilometres of railway infrastructure in the next five years to connect its gross corridors to its neighbouring countries.
The new passenger rail has a capacity of 118 passengers.
The Ethiopian government says the trans-Africa rail line could cost an estimated three trillion dollars if all African countries come to the table.
The AU wants the continents rail network completed by 2030.