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Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway: A Symbol of Bilateral Cooperation and Regional Development

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  • Senior officials from both Ethiopian and Djiboutian governments, along with the Chinese diplomatic community in Ethiopia, and the management contractor of the 752-kilometer electrified transnational railway, gathered at the Lebu Railway Station near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to mark the momentous occasion with a “Turnkey Ceremony.
  • As Ethiopia heavily relies on the Ethiopia-Djibouti trade corridor for international maritime trade, the railway plays a vital role as the primary gateway, handling a significant portion of the country’s import and export activities.

The Chinese management contractors overseeing the Ethiopia-Djibouti standard gauge railway officially transferred the management and operation responsibilities to Ethiopia and Djibouti after a successful six-year tenure.

Senior officials from both Ethiopian and Djiboutian governments, along with the Chinese diplomatic community in Ethiopia, and the management contractor of the 752-kilometer electrified transnational railway, gathered at the Lebu Railway Station near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to mark the momentous occasion with a “Turnkey Ceremony.”

Alemu Sime, Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport and Logistics, highlighted the railway’s crucial role in enhancing connectivity between the two Horn of African nations since its commencement in January 2018. He emphasized its significance as a symbol of collaborative effort and progress between the countries, significantly boosting trade and strengthening bilateral ties.

Under the management contractor’s supervision, the railway efficiently transported goods, resulting in cost reductions and stimulating economic growth in both nations. Abdi Zenebe, CEO of the Ethio-Djibouti Railway Share Company (EDR), underscored the project’s alignment with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), emphasizing its role in fostering mutual development and regional integration.

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Hassan Houmed, Djibouti’s Minister of Infrastructure and Equipment, praised the railway’s impact on reducing transport time and costs, as well as its contribution to job creation and environmental conservation. He highlighted its role in alleviating congestion at Djibouti’s port and ensuring passenger comfort and safety.

Operational data from the Chinese management contractor revealed the significant volume of passenger and freight trains operated over the six-year period, along with notable reductions in transportation time and costs between Ethiopia and Djibouti. Moreover, the railway project has been instrumental in creating local employment opportunities and empowering the workforce, with a focus on capacity building and skill development.

Through comprehensive training programs, the management contractor facilitated the localization of railway operations, maintenance, and safety management, with a substantial number of local staff trained and certified. Looking ahead, the contractor remains committed to supporting the railway’s future development through leadership training initiatives and continued collaboration with local stakeholders.

As Ethiopia heavily relies on the Ethiopia-Djibouti trade corridor for international maritime trade, the railway plays a vital role as the primary gateway, handling a significant portion of the country’s import and export activities.

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