ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua)
-- Yusuf Abera still remembers
his trips on Ethiopia’s old railway during its last
years in active service. They were hardly pleasant
journeys, as trains were slow, noisy and often disrupted
by mechanical glitches.
broke down in the middle of a trip, and we had to wait
for hours until it was repaired,” said the 47 years old.
But despite the railway’s poor condition after 90 years
in operation, its progressive closure in the new century
still made frequent travelers like Abera upset, forcing
him to travel via more expensive flights.
It was only
in 2018 when Abera switched back to trains, this time
thanks to the opening of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti
railway (or Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge Rail), the
first transnational electrified railway in Africa.
the spacious, modernized hall of the Lebu Station in
Addis Ababa, Abera compared the Chinese-built new
railway with the almost defunct old rail line and other
travel options like bus and airplane.
“It (the new
railway) is safe and you don’t have to worry about
accidents or any other inconveniences,” he said.
comfort is almost similar to airplane service ... and it
is financially more convenient than flight.”
railway links Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and the Red
Sea nation of Djibouti.
It is one of the many
Chinese-built and -funded infrastructure projects that
have sprung up on the African continent in recent years.
travelers are quick to relish the new railway’s comfort
and reasonable fees. According to China Railway Group
Limited (CREC), one of its builders and operators, the
line transported 11,600 passengers in April, up from
4,400 in January when it commenced commercial service,
suggesting its fast-growing popularity among the
a first-time passenger of the railway, was on a business
trip to drive back imported vehicles from the port of
He said an
affordable journey to Djibouti used to take three days
on the bus. Now using the new railway, he could arrive
in the coastal nation within the day of his departure.
three days on the road was very tiring and we had to
spend more money on food and accommodation. In that
sense, the train trip saves both time and money,” he
Ethiopia relies on the seaports of Djibouti for 95
percent of its import and export commodities. The
railway, by offering an access to the port quicker than
the road, is expected to reduce Ethiopia’s import costs
and expand its exports.
is also at the center of Ethiopia’s industrialization
drive, as the government hopes to attract investment to
the industrial parks along the line and boost their
production by offering more efficient transportation.
from the apparent benefits for businessmen and
industries, Mertneshi Desta’s case sheds light on the
railway’s another significance to the fast-growing
African nation, where many people now choose to work far
away from home.
lives in Addis Ababa with her child, now takes the train
to visit her husband who is among the many Ethiopians
working in Djibouti.
“I like to
visit him whenever possible. I used to take airplane
flights to Djibouti, but since it was expensive I could
not afford to fly often,” she told Xinhua.
excited about the new train service, which charges 2,000
Ethiopian birr (about 72 U.S. dollars) for a round trip
to Djibouti. In comparison, the cheapest round-trip
flight to Djibouti costs about 3,400 birr (125 dollars).
past, I flew to meet my husband once in three months ...
Since the train service started, I’ve taken the train
every month to visit him.”
endeavor in Ethiopia wins acclaim
By Habtamu Liben ADDIS ABABA
Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian
experts and officials have voiced support for Chinese
development endeavors in Ethiopia, saying they are
important to Ethiopia’s economic ambitions.
Bt. Costantinos, an economic adviser to the African
Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission
for Africa (UN-ECA), said in an interview with Xinhua
that Chinese-funded and built infrastructure projects in
Ethiopia and the rest of Africa are “both timely and
“Infrastructure is the mainstay of any economy. Unless
you have roads, railways, airports, and energy
production, the economy will suffer,” Costantinos said.
to the Ethio-Djibouti railway, built by Chinese
companies to connect Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to
the port of Djibouti, Costantinos affirmed that it would
highly benefit land-locked Ethiopia.
expected a lot from this railway and it will help
Ethiopia’s growing economy that demands a growing import
from abroad and export to the rest of the world,” he
said, adding that “the investment will not only help the
transport of goods but also transport of people among
Ethiopians and with the people of Djibouti.”
view has been shared by other Ethiopian government
officials, who believed the Chinese infrastructure
projects would facilitate Ethiopia’s export
Ethiopian Minister of Government Communications Affairs
Office (GCAO), told Xinhua that China has not only
become Ethiopia’s top economic partner but a model for
Ethiopia’s economic ambitions.
having seen China’s success in having an efficient
infrastructure to facilitate exports from industrial
parks, Ethiopia is building a “development belt” to copy
the Chinese success story.
“development belt” will see Ethiopia build industrial
parks located along the path of existing or
under-construction rail lines to speedily transport
products made in industrial parks to ports in
the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), Chinese
companies, with close to 379 projects that were either
operational or under implementation during the past five
years, are on top of Ethiopia’s investment landscape
both in terms of number and capital.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu, who called
for strengthening the socioeconomic partnership between
Ethiopia and China recently, also said that the ties
between the two countries has shown consistent upward
trajectory over the past years.
said the relationship between Ethiopia and China “has
grown to an excellent level, where the two countries
enjoy a comprehensive cooperation and partnership.”
appointed Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Tan Jian also
said the partnership between Ethiopia and China could be
seen as a role model for the South-South cooperation.
relationship between Ethiopia and China is based on
comprehensive, strategic and cooperative partnership in
all areas and at all levels,” Tan said in an interview
with Xinhua. Tan also stressed cooperation in human
resource development and science and technology.
between the two peoples is very important and it should
be the foundation for the relationship between China and
Ethiopia,” Tan said.