Djibouti inaugurates Africa’s first transnational electrified railway

A Chinese-built electric train runs on Africa's first modern electrified railway, the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, during an operational test near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Djibouti on Tuesday inaugurated its section of the 752.7-km Africa’s first transnational electrified railway linking Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to Djibouti’s Red Sea port city.

The inauguration ceremony held at the Nagad Railway Station in Djibouti officially marked the completion of the Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway.

The 100-km line with three stations within Djibouti started from the Ethio-Djibouti border to the Djibouti port.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, while inaugurating the railway, hailed the railway as the latest symbol of the ever-growing Sino-African friendship.

The Ethiopian prime minister said the project would significantly expand development of the two countries and enhance the two countries’ contribution in the global market.

“This magnificent project will play indispensable role in achieving our full-scale economic growth … This railway line will improve the socio-economic landscape of the two countries,” he said.

Desalegn also noted that as the old railway system has not been functioning for nearly two decades, the newly built electrified railway will renew and enhance the normal functioning of the Ethio-Djibouti business corridor.

The Djibouti president also said the railway would contribute to the overall economic development of the two countries and signifies a new phase in the relationship between Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Yuan Li, President of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), also vowed to further increase CCECC’s investment in Ethiopia and Djibouti and boost the two countries economy to a new height.

“The Chinese government is promoting the construction of ‘Belt and Road’ with great effort and Djibouti and Ethiopia are both important stakeholders in this vision,” Yuan said.

“China’s economy is highly complementary with those of Djibouti and Ethiopia, and the space for cooperation is immense,” he said.

With a designed speed of 120 km per hour, the new service will cut the journey time from Djibouti port to Addis Ababa down from three days by road transport to less than 12 hours.

Many local drivers have expressed excitement that the commencement of the railway will ease the existing traffic load between the two countries.

 

Zainab Sa’id