Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Full steam ahead

Brazilian firm, Andrade Gutierrez S.A, signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) to help with Ethiopia’s vision of a new network of train transportation.

According to Ambassador Taye Atskeselassie, Director General for the Americas at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this means that the giant Brazilian company will potentially work on the 496Km Addis Ababa –Ijaji-Jimma – Bedele Railway Project backed by money from Brazil’s Banks. 
If the deal goes through, Andrade Gutierrez S.A will be the second biggest Brazilian company after mining giant Vale which obtained a general exploration license in the Konso area of Southern Nation and Nationalities People’s Regional State (SNNPRS).
The Brazilian Company is expected to also bring the finances for the railway project from Brazilian Financial institutions.
The   496Km Addis Ababa –Ijaji-Jimma – Bedele line will carry passenger and freight trains and be powered by renewable energy with a standard Gauge (1.435 meters).
The MoU signing coincided with a two day visit from April 23-24 made by a delegation led by the Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota who last week also talked about the Brazilian companies’ involvement in other infrastructure projects such as energy and road construction. 
“Brazil is one of the fastest growing countries in the world and the six largest economy in the world, which through its efficient and properly managed natural resources has many similarities to Ethiopia,” Taye told Capital.
He also said Brazil’s development plan whichis an innately pro-poor strategy developed through the personal wisdom of its leaders; starting from the 90’s president Henrique Cardosa through Lula da Silva and the current president Dilma Roussef is a vision Ethiopia can learn from.
The Ethiopian Government and the Brazilian government also signed five protocol cooperation agreements during the Brazilian foreign minister’s visit.
These agreements mean the countries will cooperate in areas of education, research, trade, farming and national security, the environment and easing restrictions on diplomatic visas.
Andrade Gutierrez S.A, Founded in 1948 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil is a large, private, Latin American, firm working in  Engineering and Construction, Telecommunications, Energy and Public Grants. Marceo A. Borges who serves as the Brazilian Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission says that the agreements about the railway and the five protocols will take the relationship between Brazil and Ethiopia to the next level.  That should be taken even further if Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accepts the invitation of Brazilian FM Patriota to attend the Rio + 20 Earth summit in Rio this June 20-22.
Brazil and Ethiopia’s diplomatic relationship goes back to 1961. Both countries opened embassies in 1967 but were mutually closed within the next three years due to financial issues. Five years ago, Brazil re-opened its embassy and Ethiopia followed suit last January 2011. 
The Ethiopian Government plans to build 2,000Km of train tracks during the five year Growth and Transformation Plan.