Africa now has its first modern electrified railway, built with Chinese standards, equipment, technology, and, most important of all, friendship.
The new 750km railway line links Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa with the strategic Red Sea port of Djibouti, turning a week-long drive through a winding, pot-hole filled road into a smooth 10-hour ride to the coast. On Tuesday, a fleet of new trains took off for the first time down this new route, with Chinese conductors manning the helm.
China Railway Group and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation invested a total of $4 billion into the project that is expected to be a boon for the economies of both Ethiopia and Djibouti. Ethiopia, one of the fastest growing markets in the world, gets access to the sea, while the tiny country of Djibouti gets easier access to 94 million Ethiopian customers. The Washington Post reports that the railway is just one part of Ethiopia’s grand plan to change its global image — from a country filled with drought and famine, to one filled with factories and railways.
Leaders of both countries praised China for its support and work on the new railway with Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh remarking that China “has stood by us and has been instrumental in the infrastructural transformation of Africa,” according to a Xinhua report on the railway’s inauguration ceremony.
Xu Shaoshi, head of China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, gave a speech at the ceremony acting as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s envoy. Xu hailed the project as “a railway of Sino-African friendship in the 21st century.”
And what would the launch of a new railway be without some photos demonstrating Sino-African friendship?
And proper posture…
The new railway replaces an old diesel railroad line started by the French in 1894 that had fallen into disuse and disrepair after years of war and famine. It also marks the second time that China has built a trans-national railway through Africa. The last one was the Tazara Railway connecting Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam with Zambia’s Kapiri Mposhi in the 1970s. We’re sure there will be many more in the years to come.
[Images via Xinhua / People’s Daily]