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The Ethiopian Government has requested an additional 300 million USD loan from India,
on top of a previous loan of 300 million USD, promised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The loan will finance the last leg of the Awash-Woldiya-Mekele railway project. The project will connect the Northern part of Ethiopia with the soon to be constructed Tadjourah port in Djibouti.
Genet Zewdie, Ethiopian Ambassador to India, said that discussions are ongoing between the two governments on the possible modalities of the loan request.
Thus far, contracts for the construction of two out of three sections of the large scale railway construction project have been awarded to Chinese and Turkish companies, with the former clinching the construction of the 268.2 Km Mekele-Woldiya/Hara Gebeya Railway project in June 2012. The China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) will build the line to Tadjourah at an estimated cost of about 1.6 billion USD.
In the same month, a Turkish company, Yapi Merkezi Construction Industry Inc ., was awarded the second section, which is the 389 kilometer Awash-Woldiya/Hara Gebeya Railway Project.
The Tadjourah project will provide Ethiopia with an alternative sea port to the existing and increasingly congested Port of Djibouti. In addition to contributing to the economic growth of hinterland Ethiopia, the project aims to increase the region’s huge potential for transporting potash to the port.
The Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC), the Governmental Corporation tasked with developing railway infrastructure and providing passenger and freight rail transport services in Ethiopia, has projected that more than 2000 kms of rail lines will be laid before the end of the Government’s ambitious Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) targets in 2015.
Huge sums are being provided by the Indian Government under loans provisioned to aid less developed countries and low interest rates are being facilitated through the Exim bank of India. Genet said the assistance is not only limited to the rail sector, but covers a wide range of sectors; from sugar factories, to rural electrification projects, to scholarships for Ethiopian students and professionals and various capacity building and training programs.