Ethiopia: China, AU sign landmark agreement on high-speed railway connection

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - China and the African Union (AU) have agreed to begin the implementation of a five-year plan, aiming to connect all economic and political capital cities in Africa with high-speed railway, industrial parks and regional aviation networks, the AU said on Friday.

“A number of milestones are expected to be realised in the next five years,” the AU said after announcing the signing of an agreement with China to start the implementation of the broad railway, aviation hubs and industrial park projects to be financed by the Chinese government.

AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Xu Shaoshi, Special Envoy to Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Minister of National Development and Reform Commission, signed the Five-Year Action Plan between the AU and Beijing on 5 October, to implement the infrastructure projects.

The AU is currently working with the Chinese government to ensure that the African Union spearheads the development of relevant laws and agreements on railway cooperation.

The two sides agreed the AU would establish a project implementation unit within the next six to 12 months while collaboration and facilitation work would continue between the two sides on enhancing manufacturing sectors, technology transfer as well as education and development of required skills.

Dlamini Zuma said the AU was looking forward to the Chinese training element to enable the African side to benefit from the Chinese transfer of technology in the various sectors.

The agreement was signed during the visit by the Chinese delegation to witness the launch of the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, a US$3.4 billion project, covering 756 km, aiming to enhance transport.

Chinese government officials say Beijing has contributed to 20% of Africa’s current economic activity through some 3,000 Chinese companies trading within Africa. Chinese officials project that come 2040, the African continent might have more consumers of industrial goods than China.

African business leaders suspect the projection of Africa’s potential economic growth has been behind the rapid investments in Africa. The Chinese government terms the dealings with Africa as “practical economic and commercial cooperation” which saw China-Africa trade hit US$221 billion in 2014.

Chinese officials say under the China-Africa infrastructure cooperation, covering the building of airports, railway and energy, the Chinese government has undertaken projects worth US$52.29 billion.

Chinese firms are currently building standard gauge railway projects in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya. The Chinese government officials announced in December 2015 during the China-Africa Forum (FOCAC) that 20 economic centres and industrial parks were built at a cost of US$4.6 billion in Africa.

According to the Chinese government, these economic zones helped attract 300 Chinese firms which employed 26,000 workers in Zambia, Ethiopia and Egypt.

In 2015, President Xi pledged US$60 billion to African countries, including US$5 billion worth of interest-free loans and credit lines to support industrialisation in Africa. Some of the money, including US$10 billion, was to be channeled through a newly-established China-Africa Fund announced in Johannesburg.
-0- PANA AO/MA 8Oct2016

08 october 2016 14:35:57

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