Beijing, 23 February 2022 (TDI): The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway built by China, has been praised for aiding regional integration and development.

On Monday, while addressing a railway infrastructure seminar, officials and independent experts highlighted how Africa’s first completely electrified transboundary railway contributed to regional integration and the betterment of communities.

According to Dagmawit Moges, Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport and Logistics, the 752-kilometer transnational railway is a flagship project in the Belt and Road cooperation. It indicates the aspirations of African countries to spur continental free trade by augmenting intra-Africa infrastructure connectivity.

Further, Moges stated that “We will engrave in a cornerstone of our bilateral relations and the absolute support that we receive from our sister country China in making our ambition of having a new standard gauge rail line into reality.”

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti electrified railway, also known as the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, was built under a joint venture by China Rail Engineering Corporation (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

It is Africa’s first trans-border railway. The Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, Zhao Zhiyuan, supported Moges’ remarks, emphasizing that the Addis Ababa-Djibouti rail line is a lifeline for Ethiopia’s landlocked country.

“Since the beginning of this project which was more than four years ago, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, as a flagship project of China-Ethiopia cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has made significant progress in all aspects,” the Chinese ambassador said.

The electrified railway has lowered freight transportation time from more than three days to less than 20 hours while also lowering costs by at least one-third. According to Zhao, the railway has been a driver of economic expansion and industrialization, as well as a lifeline for crucial supplies like fertilizers, grain, cement, steel, and anti-pandemic materials.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway Share Company (EDR) and CREC-CCECC Joint Venture, as well as the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia, co-hosted this high-level seminar, which was titled “Significance of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway for the Horn of Africa.”

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, which currently provides both passenger and freight services between Ethiopia and Djibouti, is managed by the CREC-CCECC Joint Venture.

According to joint venture records, the railway’s monthly transport revenue in October and November of 2021 topped 9 million and 10 million U.S. dollars, respectively, the best performance since 2018.

Transportation revenue will be 37.4 percent greater in 2021 than it was in 2020. The railway has also produced several career opportunities for locals, with over 4,000 people currently working, accounting for over 90% of the total workforce.

The high-level seminar participants also stressed the critical relevance of China-Africa collaboration under the BRI in terms of increasing infrastructure development across the continent.

Many African countries have built new deep seaports, thousands of kilometers of roads, and railways that have altered logistics across Africa, among other development projects, as part of the growing list of African countries partnering with China under the BRI framework.