The African Development Bank (ADB) has awarded a $US 1.2m grant to the government of Ethiopia, covering 34% of the study’s $US 3.4m cost. The NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (Nepad-IPPF) will provide $US 2m with the governments of Ethiopia and Sudan each set provide $US 100,000 to cover the remaining cost.

The agreed route between the two capitals includes a branch to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The study will assess the project’s technical, economic, environmental and social viability as well as possible alternative financing arrangements, including the use of public-private partnerships (PPP).

The project would create an additional transport artery between landlocked Ethiopia and the Red Sea following the opening of the 752km electrified standard gauge line from Addas Ababa to Adama, Djibouti, in 2016. A plan to build a further 280km standard gauge line from Weldiya/Hara Gebeya to Tadjoura in Djibouti was dropped following a failed tendering process in 2015.  

ADB says the project is aligned with its Country Strategy Paper 2016-2020 for Ethiopia and is also consistent with the long-term development goals of the Sudanese government, as set out in its 25-year strategy, 2007-2031. The project would also satisfy four of the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities: Integrate Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

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