Ethiopia: Proposed Railway Connection from Berbera Port

Ethiopia intends to connect the Berbera port in Somaliland to the Ethio-Djibouti Railway network under a public-private partnership investment arrangement. 

By Diana Muringo on
7th June 2021
This estimated US$1.5 billion project is also known as the ‘port to port connection project’ and is set to be carried out under Ethiopia's 10-year development plan, which was endorsed recently. This port-to-port railway project is not part of the 5,000-kilometer project that the country planned to develop about a decade ago.  During a recent transport investment summit, the proposed railway project was introduced to interested investors. The proposed railway line is estimated to be approximately 310 kilometers from Ayisha.  Ayisha is already connected to Berbera Port through the Ethio-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway.  An interesting part about this project is that most of it will be carried out inside Somaliland’s border. DP World, a Dubai-based port operator, has carried out a huge expansion at the Berbera port. This port is a great alternative for the South and South-Eastern parts of Ethiopia.  At the recent transport investment summit, a document from the Ministry of Transport was disbursed. It indicated that only 60 kilometers of the railway project would be within the Ethiopian borders. The remaining 250 kilometers would be within the Somaliland borders.  The document also indicated that this project was expected to open alternative sea access and a crucial international railway corridor to the nation. The project scope was intended to involve constructing a standard gauge railway compatible with the existing Addis Ababa-Djibouti line, port rail connection, railway stations, and auxiliary facilities.  However, the document did not clearly state if the estimated US$1.5 billion cost is only the amount to be financed by Ethiopia, or is the total cost including Somaliland’s share. The Ministry of Transport’s description of the project stated that the proposed railway project would impact all areas along the line, facilitate the development of the port industry, and boost Ethiopia’s economy.  Photo: Ethiopian Railways Coach (Ethiopian Railways Twitter Handle | @EthiopianRailw)

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