10 Things You Need To Know About The Ethiopia-Djibouti Electric Railway

By Kevin Mwanza AFKI Original Published: October 12, 2016, 6:00 am
Photo: theguardian.co.uk

The governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti opened a 752.7 kilometer electric railway, to serve the two horn of Africa neighbors. The railway will provide a faster transportation of goods and people between the two nations. It will also boost Ethiopia’s landlocked economy through the transport of cargo from the Port of Djibouti. The port handles about 90 percent of the imports into Ethiopia.

Below are 10 things you need to know about the railway.

Sources; Business Daily, Business Standard, BBC, Global Rail Industry News, Geeska Afrika Online, DP World Doraleh

An electric rail cutting across Ethiopia from its capital Addis Ababa all the way to the Red Sea state of Djibouti. (Photo: bizna.co.ke)

An electric rail cutting across Ethiopia from its capital Addis Ababa all the way to the Red Sea state of Djibouti. (Photo: bizna.co.ke)

Africa’s first cross-border electric railway

The railway is Africa’s first modern cross-border electric railway. It replaces a metre-gauge railway built by France in 1971 in Ethiopia.

Chinese and Senegalese construction workers (Image: one.org)

Chinese and Senegalese construction workers (Image: one.org)

China financed 70% of its construction

The Chinese government, through its China Exim Bank provided 70 percent of the financial support, while the Ethiopian government financed the remaining 30 percent. It cost a total of $3.4 billion to construct.

Photo: bbc.co.uk

Photo: bbc.co.uk

It cost $4.9 million kilometer

It cost $4.9 million per kilometer to construct the railway.

A man walks past a portion of the Addis Ababa light railway under construction in Addis Ababa on January 15, 2014. The Addis Ababa Light Railway system contracted by the China Railway Group Limited will have a total of 41 stations. AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza

A man walks past a portion of the Addis Ababa light railway under construction in Addis Ababa on January 15, 2014. The Addis Ababa Light Railway system contracted by the China Railway Group Limited will have a total of 41 stations. AFP PHOTO/Carl de Souza

Two Chinese companies built the line

Two Chinese construction companies built the railway line. China Railway Group built the section between Addis Ababa, the capital and Mieso in Oromia state while China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) constructed the Mieso-Djibouti sector.

Locomotives for the new Ethiopia to Djibouti electric railway system (Photo: voanews.com)

Locomotives for the new Ethiopia to Djibouti electric railway system (Photo: voanews.com)

It will cut transport time from 78 hours to less than 10 hours

The new railway will reduce time taken to move between the two nations, from three days by road to about 12 hours. It has a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour.

Chinese and local staff during the inauguration of the new electric train line (Photo: theguardian.com)

Chinese and Ethiopian staff during the inauguration of the new electric train line (Photo: theguardian.com)

Chinese experts will maintain the railway

Experts from China will maintain the railway line in the first five years of operation. Ethiopian workers will then take over. They are currently undergoing specialized training in China and Russia.

Photo: http://english.gov.cn/

Photo: http://english.gov.cn/

It will first carry cargo for three months

The railway will only transport freight in its first three months of testing. The freight trains can travel at a speed of 90 kilometers per hour. The passenger trains will travel at 120 kilometers per hour and will carry over 1,000 passengers at a go once they start operating.

Image: cbc.ca

Image: cbc.ca

The railway route passes through a violent region

The railway passes through Adama in Oromia state, which has been hard hit by the violent Oromia protests that have left over 500 people dead. The clashes broke out in November last year, as Oromos protested economic and political marginalization by the government.

Chinese conductor Ding Jihua (R) trains the Ethiopian attendants at a railway station in suburban Addis Ababa (Photo:

Chinese conductor Ding Jihua (R) trains the Ethiopian attendants at a railway station in suburban Addis Ababa (Photo:

It created 5,000 jobs during construction

The new line created at least 5,000 local jobs in the course of its construction. It is part of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), a government initiative to lift the nation into a middle-country status in the next ten years.

Tazara Railway, also known as the Tanzam Railway. Photo: uyolecte.tumblr.com

Tazara Railway, also known as the Tanzam Railway. Photo: uyolecte.tumblr.com

Second cross-border rail built by China in Africa

It is the second trans-national railway built by Chinese government in Africa. The first one was the Tazara railway, opened in 1975 to link the Port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with Kapiri Moshi in Zambia.

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