Ethiopia says new railway to Djibouti to start in early 2016

by Zelalem

ADDIS ABABA Jan 28 (Reuters) – Ethiopia expects to open a
new railway line linking the capital Addis Ababa with the Red
Sea state of Djibouti in early 2016, a project at the centre of
plans to create new manufacturing industries, the head of the
state railways said.

The 700-km (450-mile)line is being built at a cost of $4
billion by China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and
China Civil Engineering Construction (CCECC). Ethiopia is
seeking to have 5,000 km of new lines working across the country
by 2020.

“By October 2015, a considerable portion of the Addis
Ababa-Djibouti project will be finished,” Getachew Betru, chief
executive of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation, told Reuters,
adding trains would run soon after. “We will start early 2016.”

In addition to the Djibouti line, two others are being built
across the country which are among a range of big infrastructure
investments that also include new roads and dams to produce
hydro-electric power.

In a bid to keep the economy expanding at the 8 percent or
more it is already achieving, the nation of 96 million people
wants to become an African manufacturing hub, offering investors
efficient transport, plentiful labour and cheap power.

In the capital, a new $475 million light railway system will
be tested in the next few weeks before scheduled services start.
It will be the first city metro to operate in Sub-Saharan

Among the new national railway lines, one will connect the
region of Afar, where Ethiopia is encouraging the mining of
potash for fertiliser, to Djibouti, the main export point for
land-locked Ethiopia. Canada’s Allana Potash Corp is among the
firms developing mines in Afar.

Most Ethiopians still depend on subsistence agriculture, but
the country is building a textile and garment industry, produces
shoes, assembles cars and trucks and other products. It is
drawing some investors from China and India, where wages are

For now, logistical difficulties such as poor roads and an
old fleet of trucks mean transporting goods from the capital to
Djibouti can take days. The new railway line will cut the
journey time to about eight hours.

“It is a game-changer for us,” said Getachew. “It will be
one of the most vibrant economic corridors in the world.”

(Editing by Edmund Blair and Ralph Boulton)

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