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The 100km railway line within the borders of Djibouti which is part of the 756km Addis Ababa- Djibouti railway line that connects Addis Ababa with the port of Djibouti was officially inaugurated on Thursday January 10, 2016.

The 656 km track running from Addis to the Ethiopian border with Djibouti was inaugurated in early October in the presence of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn attended the ceremony at Negad, which is the main station and is located along the outskirts of Djibouti’s capital .

The 656km railway line has cost Ethiopia USD 3.4 billion. Most believe  that it will greatly reduce travel time between Addis Ababa and Djibouti from seven days via road to about 10 hours.

Ethiopia began a trial service in October 2016 and regular service is expected to begin this year following the inauguration of the remaining 100 km line that lies within Djibouti.

The 100km section from Dewele to the Gulf of Aden was constructed by the Chinese China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), who also constructed the 340km section from Me’eso to Dire Dawa and Dewele on the Djibouti border. The other Chinese state firm CREC built the 317km Addis Ababa – Me’eso section.

The two companies will also be responsible for managing the project for the coming few years after the two countries selected them to manage the railway operation.

Djibouti is the major import export hub of Ethiopia. It is undertaking several logistics projects with the goal of making Djibouti the major logistics center in the region.

The project is also seen as a curtain raiser for the China-backed pan-African railway network, which will be about 2,000km long. The electrified railroad venture also reflects China’s increasing clout in the continent, whose GDP is predicted to double by 2035.

Mostly funded by China’s Exim Bank, the entire network was constructed by two state-backed entities – China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and China Railway Construction Corporation. While speaking at the inauguration, the chairman of one of the corporations pledged to pump more money into Africa for setting up similar projects.