USD 300 mln for one route of Ethiopia’s new railway

India pledged 300 million USD for the construction of the new Ethiopian railway. The announcement was made on May 25 by Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, in a press conference he gave following his discussion with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, in Addis Ababa.

It is to be recalled Mr. Singh has been in Addis last week to attend the Africa-India Summit and conduct a visit to Ethiopia.

In the Press Conference, Mr. Sing said:

India has tried to assist in Ethiopia’s development through capacity building support and offers of lines of credit of more than 700 million US dollars during the last five years. We will further enhance scholarships, training programmes and slots under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme for Ethiopia.

I conveyed to the Prime Minister [Meles Zenawi] our decision to extend an additional line of credit of 300 million US dollars for a regional integration project as committed to the African Union for a new Ethiopia-Djibouti railway.

Ethiopia has unveiled last year a two-phased plan to construct a 4,850 long railway, with 8 main rail routes and expected to connect about 49 towns, under the purview of the newly established Ethiopian Railway Corporation. (See the map and list of the routes, in this blog, – HERE and HERE)

A 656 km long rail route that stretches from Sebeta, near Addis Ababa, to Dewele, which is located near the border of Djibouti, is amongst them.

This is in addition to the existing 781 Km railroad that links Addis Ababa, via Dire Dawa, to the port of Djibouti, which was built by French in the early 1900s and owned by Ethio-Djibouti Railway Company. Currently, about one third of the rail track is being re-laid with heavier weight rails; that is, changing the original 20 kg per meter rails with 40 kg per meter rails. A European company is responsible for the maintenance project, which the European Union funds.

Though Premier Singh statement is a bit vagueness, it appears the Indian finance is intend for the construction of the new rail route, since the maintenance project of the existing Ethio-Djibouti route is already financed by the European Union.

However, it is not clear if the Indian fund is solely for the construction of the rail up to the border town Dewele or whether it includes an extension route deep into Djibouti. So far, the Djiboutian government has not indicated if it intends to construct a rail route that extends from the planned Ethiopian rail route that stops at its border. [Updates will provided as soon as my inquiry on the exact scope of the Indian funding bears fruit]

It has been reported by the Minister of Transport that detailed design works for this is underway last March. The Ministry had also announced that 5,000 professionals with first and second degree in Engineering and another 25,000 with Technical and Vocational Training will be needed for the phase-I of the railway construction works, which is to be conducted in the next five years.

It is to be recalled that this is the first blog to post the map design and details of the 8 rail routes to be constructed in the phase I and phase II of the project.


Check this blog’s Railway archive for more on this issue.

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Daniel Berhane

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