New China-backed multi-billion-dollar railways are emerging in Africa
African countries borrowed nearly $10bn for railways between 2000-2014
A planned network will connect East Africa
Near Africa’s horn on the easternmost part of the continent, a shiny new electric railway runs alongside an old abandoned track through both arid desert and green highlands.
Some 750 kilometres (466 miles) long, the $4 billion line connects landlocked Ethiopia to the Red Sea coast in Djibouti.
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.
Like a number of other planned lines it was partly funded and built by Chinese companies. It could soon link up with neighboring 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.