Test runs of the new railway linking Addis Ababa and Djibouti may come as early as next week, now that the $345 million project, funded primarily by China, is near completion.
Officials with Ethiopian Railway Corporation say trial service will run for three to six months on the line, beginning the first week in October, the government’s Ethiopian News Agency reports.
The electric rail system will cut travel time between Ethiopia’s landlocked capital and the Port of Doraleh, on the Gulf of Aden, from two days to less than 10 hours. It is part of an ambitious Ethiopian initiative to build 5,000 kilometers of rail to connect its fast-growing cities and their markets.
That $3 billion vision would make Ethiopia the first sub-Saharan country outside of South Africa to develop a comparable national rail network.
China’s funding of 70 percent of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti line reflects its continued investment and strategic interest in the Horn of Africa.
The railway is built by China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction (CCECC), and replaces a nearly 100-year-old diesel line with the efficient, environmentally friendly new trains.
Image: Government of Ethiopia