Ethiopia seeks India’s help in rail link with Djibouti


New Delhi : Ethiopia has sought India’s help in developing a rail link with its neighbour Djibouti which will allow the land-locked country access to the sea.

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This was conveyed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zanawi to the visiting Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor Jan 29 on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

According to officials, the Ethiopian Prime Minister had specifically sought India’s help in establishing a link to Djibouti as it is a landlocked country.

The Ethiopian government has recently signed memoranda of understanding with four foreign companies, including India’s Overseas Investment Alliance and two Chinese group, to undertake studies for the railway project.

As per Ethiopian media reports, the project will be awarded to the company that comes up with the financing first.

The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway is part of the government’s plan to lay down 5,000 km of track along seven different routes of economic importance. The next phase will see another track linking Ethiopia to Kenya.

India has a thriving trade with Ethiopia of nearly $500 million. The total Indian investment in the country was about $4 billion, out of which $1 billion worth of projects has already been implemented.

One of the few African countries with direct flights from India, Ethiopia has nearly 500 Indian companies, out of which 100 are “actively pursuing projects”.

Officials said that the issue of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms had also come up. Ethiopia, one of the countries supporting India for a permanent seat in an expanded UNSC, has agreed to work with India on the subject.