Chinese-built railway links two African countries

Chinese train attendants taking a wefie before the start of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti passenger rail service on Wednesday.
Chinese train attendants taking a wefie before the start of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti passenger rail service on Wednesday.PHOTO: XINHUA

ADDIS ABABA • A Chinese-built railway linking landlocked Ethiopia and the coastal nation of Djibouti has been inaugurated.

The 750km railway, built by two Chinese companies, connects the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to the strategic Red Sea port of Djibouti in about 10 hours, a far cry from the present seven-day trip along a congested, potholed road.

The US$4 billion (S$5.5 billion) project, Africa's first modern electrified railway, took six years to build and was launched on Wednesday. It replaces a diesel line built by the French in 1917.

"The inauguration of a Chinese- built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway in Africa is vivid proof that China is walking the talk, sharing one of the key lessons it has gained following decades of reform and opening up to the outside world," said Xinhua news agency yesterday.

China is also building railways in African countries such as Kenya, Chad, Nigeria and Angola.

The new railway in Ethiopia is 70 per cent financed by China's Exim Bank and built by China Railway Group and China Civil Engineering Construction.

Professor He Wenping of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the line would open the door to more Chinese investment in the region.

"It would be an example for future railway projects in Africa… and facilitate Chinese exports of rail equipment and machinery," Prof He was quoted as saying by South China Morning Post. She added that Chinese firms could also build housing projects along the line.

XINHUA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese-built railway links two African countries'. Print Edition | Subscribe