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Chinese-built railway helps with Ethiopia’s industrialization

A Chinese-built railway linking the Ethiopian capital and the port of Djibouti is expected to help the landlocked African country improve access to the sea and speed up a burgeoning industrialization process.

The railway, which is set to become fully operational on October 5, will be Africa’s first modern electrified railway.

The full length of the railway is 752.7 kilometers, with a designed speed of 120 km per hour. With a total investment of 4 billion U.S. dollars, it is being constructed by the China Railway Group and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

"The railway is constructed on the basis of Chinese railway technology standards while taking into account the national conditions of Ethiopia and Djibouti," said Zeng Deli, a project manager of the China Railway Group, to Xinhua.

It was designed and constructed in a most economical way, taking only six years for its final completion, which should be viewed as some kind of miracle even in China, Zeng said.

For the Chinese contractors, the construction of a railway with a designed speed of 120 km per hour is not difficult. But it takes nothing short of a great feat to complete it with no compromise on quality and timeliness when there are inadequate construction materials and technical staff in Ethiopia.

The modern standard-gauge Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway runs parallel to a decrepit meter-gauge version built over 100 years ago by Europeans. Over 90 percent of Ethiopia’s imports and exports, in particular energy and food, are made via the sea port of Djibouti. The capacity of the current road system has long been overwhelmed.

When the new railway becomes operational, transport time from Djibouti to the Ethiopian capital will be reduced from 7 days to ten hours.

The Ethiopian government endorsed the suggestions and put the railway into a key project category of its five-year national development plan. Industrial parks will be established in regional hub cities along the railway.

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway is only one of many major projects currently under way in the framework of China-Africa cooperation.

Following the successful Johannesburg summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in December last year, China has been deepening and expanding the scope of its industrial capacity cooperation with Africa.

More and more exemplary projects like the new Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway are set to prop up across the African continent and further help drive forward the modernization process in an unprecedented manner.


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