African railways is stepped up with a line linking East African Countries. The Project is estimated costing $4 billion is launched with the help of Chinese companies.

Near Africa’s horn on the easternmost part of the continent, a shiny new electric railway runs alongside an old track through arid desert and green highlands. It’s been billed as the most ambitious project in Kenya since it gained independence in 1963.

Some 750 kilometres (466 miles) long, the  line connects landlocked Ethiopia to the Red Sea coast in Djibouti by the proposed east African Railways. This railway is the most expensive of a series of construction projects in Africa. It is also one of China’s most important investments in east Africa.

Officially inaugurated last week after test runs kicked off in October. It is expected to cut the travel time between the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the port in Djibouti from three days by road to 12 hours by rail. Passenger trains will travel at 120km/h, and freight trains will be able to carry 25 million tonnes per year


Like a number of other planned lines it was partly funded and built by Chinese companies. It could soon link up with neighbouring Sudan and Kenya  where the first part of a new $13 billion Kenyan railway connecting Mombasa to Nairobi is taking shape. The sprawling network is planned to continue into South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, as part of transnational efforts to connect countries within East Africa.

East African railways

Finally, this could transform how goods and people move. The increased number of lines is expected to boost trade in countries like Kenya, says Kuria Muchiru, advisory partner, East Africa, at PwC in Kenya.

“Because we probably have about 4,000 trucks everyday making the trip up from Mombasa into Nairobi, and some go farther on,” adds Muchiru.

The ports are where the magic happens, with 90% of African imports and exports conducted by sea which can be an issue for trade coming into landlocked countries.

“The new lines will have access to the ports and be able to almost offload directly onto the train and then straight onto inland locations,” Muchiru says.

The East Africa Railway Masterplan is being managed by the East Africa Community. The railway is being built by the state-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC)


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