Ethiopia’s Chinese-backed metro rail system ‘set for completion in January 2015’

Out-Law News | 19 Dec 2014 | 2:35 pm | 1 min. read

The Chinese-backed construction of a $475 million metro rail system in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa is expected to be completed by the end of next month, the head of the project has said.

Project manager Behailu Sintayehu told Reuters that nearly 80% of the tracks had been laid as part of construction by the China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC) and “mostly financed” through a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.

Behailu said the project, launched in January 2012, “will have a great impact in alleviating the problem of transportation in the city”.

The metro system will cover a combined distance of 32 kilometres, with two rail lines dividing Addis Ababa north-south and east-west, serving a total of 39 underground and overground stations.

According to Reuters Shenzhen Metro, the enterprise managing the Chinese city's metro system, will operate the Addis Ababa metro for 41 months alongside CREC.

In the first 10 months of 2013, China's direct investment in African non-financial sectors increased 71.6% percent year-on-year to $2.54bn, according to Chinese Ministry of Commerce figures reported by the country’s state-run Xinhua News Agency. The vice-chairman of the China council for the Promotion of International Trade, Zhang Wei, told Xinhua that more than 2,000 Chinese companies are investing in Africa in sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, finance, logistics and construction.

Earlier this year, Addis Ababa was included in a list of so-called ‘next 10’ cities in sub-Saharan Africa that are expected to see faster economic growth than any other region by 2040. The list was part of professional services firm PwC's 'Global Economy Watch'.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde said that the “scaling up” of energy infrastructure investments in Ethiopia and other African nations were “critical for growth to be sustained”.

The IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook for Sub Saharan Africa (116-page / 2.53 MB PDF), published last spring, said economic activity in the region continued to be underpinned by large investments in infrastructure, mining and maturing investments. The report said weaker commodity prices and slower growth in emerging markets may reduce net inflows of foreign direct investment, but overall growth across sub-Saharan Africa “should remain in the top 30% in the world”.