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Chinese-built railway helps propel Ethiopia’s industrialization drive | Coastweek

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- A new train stops at a railway station in suburban Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A Chinese-built railway linking the Ethiopian capital and the port of Djibouti is expected to help the landlocked African country improve access to the sea and speed up a burgeoning industrialization process. The railway, which is set to become fully operational on October 05, will be Africa’s first modern electrified railway. XINHUA PHOTO - SUN RUIBO

Chinese-built railway helps propel Ethiopia’s industrialization drive

by Xinhua writers Wang Xiangjiang, Liang Shanggang and Yao Yuan ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- A Chinese-built railway linking the Ethiopian capital and the port of Djibouti is expected to help the landlocked African country improve access to the sea and speed up a burgeoning industrialization process.

The railway, which is set to become fully operational on October 5, will be Africa’s first modern electrified railway.

The full length of the railway is 752.7 kilometers, with a designed speed of 120 km per hour. With a total investment of 4 billion U.S. dollars, it is being constructed by the China Railway Group and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

"The railway is constructed on the basis of Chinese railway technology standards while taking into account the national conditions of Ethiopia and Djibouti," said Zeng Deli, a project manager of the China Railway Group, to Xinhua.

It was designed and constructed in a most economical way, taking only six years for its final completion, which should be viewed as some kind of miracle even in China, Zeng said.

For the Chinese contractors, the construction of a railway with a designed speed of 120 km per hour is not difficult.

But it takes nothing short of a great feat to complete it with no compromise on quality and timeliness when there are inadequate construction materials and technical staff in Ethiopia.

With careful planning and patient coordination, the Chinese firms managed to make sure construction materials imported from abroad arrived on time.

To ensure good quality and no delay in construction, they even took the pains to manufacture the materials themselves, despite their higher cost.

For the Chinese firms, a lack of local technical personnel with adequate railway technology knowledge is a more serious problem.

For example, it took 20,000 workers to complete a specific section of the railway, and it would be impossible to have the posts filled all by Chinese, said Fu Xun, another project manager with the China Railway Group.

To tackle the challenge, the Chinese firms made the training of local technical workers a daily routine of their operations in Ethiopia.

For the past few years, more than 15,000 local workers went through various training programs, thus ensuring enough manpower for railway construction and a talent reserve for future management of railway operations.

To protect its precious wildlife resources along the railway, the Ethiopian government set a high environmental protection protocol.

To meet these high ecological standards, the Chinese companies did their best not to alter the original landscape along the railway.

They also spent more than 4 million U.S. dollars to build overpasses specially designed for safe animal crossover.

The modern standard-gauge Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway runs parallel to a decrepit meter-gauge version built over 100 years ago by Europeans.

Over 90 percent of Ethiopia’s imports and exports, in particular energy and food, are made via the sea port of Djibouti.

The capacity of the current road system has long been overwhelmed.

When the new railway becomes operational, transport time from Djibouti to the Ethiopian capital will be reduced from 7 days to ten hours.

Besides faster transport, the Chinese firms have an even greater ambition.

That is, the railway will serve as a catalyst for Ethiopia’s national economic development.

They put forward industrial planning recommendations to the Ethiopian government, including the establishment of industrial parks in key cities, so that better transport benefits will be ensured in the middle and long run.

The Ethiopian government endorsed the suggestions and put the railway into a key project category of its five-year national development plan. Industrial parks will be established in regional hub cities along the railway.

With improved transportation, the country will gradually transform an industrial model of exporting basic materials into one that focuses on deep processing. As a result, the country’s industrialization level will be elevated.

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway is only one of many major projects currently under way in the framework of China-Africa cooperation.

Following the successful Johannesburg summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in December last year, China has been deepening and expanding the scope of its industrial capacity cooperation with Africa.

More and more exemplary projects like the new Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway are set to prop up across the African continent and further help drive forward the modernization process in an unprecedented manner.


Chinese president’s envoy to attend Ethiopia-Djibouti railway opening ceremony

BEIJING China (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping’s envoy will attend the opening ceremony of a railway linking Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, and Djibouti on October 5, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Friday.

Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, will go to Ethiopia at the invitation of the Ethiopian government,spokesperson Geng Shuang said.

Ethiopia sees China as a serious development partner: minister

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- Ethiopia sees China as a serious development partner, says Ethiopian State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation Ahmed Shide.

The Ethiopian minister made the remarks at a reception co-hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia and the Mission to the African Union (AU) on Thursday to mark the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China,

The heroes and heroines of China, in the 1930s and 40s, made the historic long march to bring peace, equality, and justice to their great nation, which culminated in the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, he said.

"Ever since the succeeding generations, through relentless struggle, have not only pulled hundreds of millions of Chinese out of abject poverty, and enabled them to meet their dire needs, but also successfully put their great nation on irreversible development path," said the minister.

"Hence, this day is indeed, memorable for the Chinese people and the world at large," he noted.

Stating that Ethiopia and China enjoy a longstanding and wide-ranging strategic comprehensive partnership, Ahmed said China has played an exemplary role in supporting Ethiopia’s relentless struggle to extricate its people out of poverty and to transform its economy.

"Ethiopia sees China as a serious development partner and has keen desire to strengthen and deepen the existing excellent relationship between our two countries, most importantly this partnership based on mutual respect and win-win benefit," said the minister.

He also stated that Ethiopia and China are supporting each other on regional and global matters of common interest and contribute immensely to world peace and equitable development.

With a photograph exhibition, the reception was attended by senior government officials of Ethiopia and the pan-Africa bloc as well as diplomats, heads and representatives of different organizations.

In his remarks during the event, Kuang Weilin, Head of Chinese Mission to AU, noted that the great strides China has made since its reform and opening up process have changed the destination of the Chinese people, and also significantly contributed to global peace and prosperity.

"Over the past 67 years, China has witnessed remarkable economic and social achievements.

"Gone are the days when China was poor, weak and divided," said the envoy.

Despite challenges at home and abroad, he said China remains committed to deepening reforms and opening up to ensure sound and sustainable economic growth.

He also reiterated that China is focusing on structural reforms, innovation, new technology, and new industries like the "Internet", among others, which has provided new driving forces for the country’s sustainable development.

With economic growth of 6.7 percent during the first half of this year, which is not small accomplishment in light of the sheer size of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and the current global economy, China plays its role as a key engine of the world economy.

"China has contributed to the world economic growth by 30 percent last year. As the fundamentals of China’s economy remain sound and the general trend is rather promising, we are confident that China can maintain medium-to-high growth rate in the years to come, which will undoubtedly boost recovery of the world economy," noted Kuang.

Chinese firm awards outstanding local employees in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) has awarded outstanding local employees in Ethiopia for their excellent performances in the past year.

Zhou Yongsheng, General Manager of CCCC Ethiopia, congratulated 60 excellent employees who had been recommended by different projects in different parts of Ethiopia, and particularly the 10 Top 10 Excellent employees out of all, because they are selected from the overall 7,000 Ethiopian employees.

Some of the excellent employees have been serving at the Company since the Company started business here in the country, while some are newly recruited in recent years along with the development of the Company in Ethiopia, said the General Manger at a awarding ceremony on Saturday in the Ethiopian capital.

He stated that the Company has carried out various mega projects in China and here in Ethiopia.

"The Company is proud to have such excellent employees like you. You have contributed all your efforts for your own projects for the overall development of the Company in Ethiopia," noted Zhou.

Congratulating the awardee employees, Zhao Wei, Deputy Manager of CCCC East Africa, noted that his Company achieved a lot because it has many excellent employees.

The Company and its employees work together to achieve a success, he said.

Speaking on behalf of the selected excellent employees, Zeyede Tesfaye, Human Resource Manager at the Company, said it has carried out various projects including Ring Road in the capital Addis Ababa, bridges, houses, airport runway, railway and different roads projects.

He said the projects carried out by the Company have significantly contributed to the image building of the country.

"The projects undertaken by our company created job opportunities to many citizens who served their company and benefited to themselves and their families as well," noted the Human Resource Manager.

While working with the Company, the local employees have been benefited from the Chinese experience and they have acquired new skills and knowledge, including among others in machine operating, and laboratory technique.

"Therefore, I could say that our Company is not only building our country on the construction sector, but also serving as one of the best technical school," said Tesfaye.

Tsehaye Ayalneh and Abraham Gebremedhin are among the top 10 employees, who are working with the Weldiya-Mekelle Railway Project.

They told Xinhua that the award encourages them to do harder and further improve their performance at the Company.

Tsehaye said, "I am very happy to be selected one of the top excellent local employees; and in the future (to be) with full devotion and in very nice attitude."

Tsehaye also stated that the Chinese and local employees have good working relations.

"I am very happy; today is one of my best days in which I am very pleased. We have been working with the Company long, and it did the awards; so, I am very happy and it encourages me work harder and even to achieve more," said Abraham on his part.

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