AfDB Grants $1.2m for Ethiopia-Sudan Railway Feasibility Study

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a US$ 1.2 million grant to Ethiopia’s government to finance a feasibility study for the construction of a standard gauge railway linking Ethiopia and neighbouring Sudan. The 1,522-km Ethiopia-Sudan railway line will link Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa to Khartoum in Sudan, with an extension to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

The grant from the African Development Fund, the bank’s concessional-rate lending arm, covers 35 per cent of the total cost of the study, estimated at US$ 3.4 million. The remaining funding will be provided by the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) in the form of a US$ 2-million grant and a US$ 100,000 contribution from each of the two countries involved. The financing was approved by AfDB’s Board of Directors in January.

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The two-year comprehensive feasibility study into the rail project will assess its technical, economic, environmental and social viability, as well as alternative financing arrangements, including a public-private partnership (PPP).

According to the document presented to directors of the African Development Fund, the absence of a regional arterial route linking Ethiopia, Sudan and other countries in the Horn of Africa is a brake on trade, development and regional integration. The movement of goods and people between Sudan and Ethiopia often requires the use of several modes of transport, which increases costs and lengthens journey times.

The findings of the Ethiopia-Sudan railway feasibility study will be keenly awaited because its implementation would benefit a large proportion of Ethiopia’s 110 million people and the 43 million people in Sudan, as well as people in the Horn of Africa region.

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The study is aligned with the Bank’s Country Strategy Paper 2016-2020 for Ethiopia, which is informed by the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP-II) and the priorities of the upcoming Ten-Year Perspective Plan 2021-2030. It is also consistent with the long-term development goals of the Sudanese government, outlined in its national 25-year strategy (2007-2031). The proposed railway project is in line with AfDB’s Ten-Year Strategy 2013-2022 and the operational priority of infrastructure development. The project addresses four of the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities: Integrate Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

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