Ethiopia-Djibouti railway begins commercial operations


A 756-km rail project connecting landlocked Ethiopia with Djibouti has officially started commercial operation.

The Chinese-built railway will carry both passenger and freight services between Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and the small port nations of Djibouti. Speaking at a ceremony in the capital, Ethiopian Minister of Transport, Ahmed Shide, said the project marks a new standard for China-Africa relations.

Rail project officially launches

The Ethiopia-Djibouti railway project involved US$4 billion investment and a loan from China’s Exim Bank. Two Chinese companies were involved in the construction: China Rail Engineering Corporation (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

The first 320 km of the railway, from Sebeta to Mieso, was built by the China Rail Engineering Corporation and the remaining 436 km, from Mieso to Djibouti port, was built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

Better ties for all involved

Djibouti Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mohamed Idriss Farah, says the project will significantly contribute to the economic partnership between Djibouti and Ethiopia.

“This is important corridor, important railways between Djibouti and Ethiopia; we are working for our economic integration between our two countries. And this project was part of the economic integration, but not only economic integration but also connecting the peoples of Djibouti and Ethiopia,” he said.

While Djibouti – and Africa in general – will also enjoy closer ties with China now that the project has successfully begun commercially operating. Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, Tan Jian, says the project signifies deeper relations between his country and the African continent.

“It is the first trans-boundary and longest electrified railway on the African continent. We, the Chinese, see this as earlier harvest project of the Belt and Road initiative. It is regarded by many as a lifeline project for both countries, for Ethiopia and for Djibouti. And we see this as a railway of development; as a railway of cooperation; and as a railway of friendship,” he said.

Featured image: By Skilla1st – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.