Ethiopia Urges Foreign Investment in Railways

freight train
China is a major source of funding for Ethiopia

Ethiopia has called for more foreign investment into the country’s railways, as it plans to build a railway network of nearly 6,000 kilometers in the coming decade.

The lack of infrastructure is one of the Africa’s most serious economic challenges, said Ethiopian Ambassador to China Seyoum Mesfin recently at a forum in Macao.

“The development and interconnection of our infrastructure (power, telecom, roads and railways) will pull the region together towards market integration, sustainable growth and common development,” he said.

The World Bank estimates the continent as a whole has an annual infrastructure funding gap of $90 billion.

Mesfin said China’s investment in his country was transforming the economic fortunes. “China has been playing an irreplaceable role in Ethiopia’s economic transformation. China has unparalleled contribution towards funding our infrastructure.”

Chinese investment in infrastructure in Ethiopia dates back to 1972 when it financed the Wereta-Weldiya road across the Rift valley.

Over the next three years, a Chinese State-owned company is to build the final section of a 339 km railway line linking Addis Ababa to the Red Sea state of Djibouti. A toll road along the same route has also got funding from China.

Other than railways and roads, Chinese companies are also making major investments in hydro power and setting up cellular and 3G networks.