Italy to finance Ethiopia’s sea-access rail link

During an official meeting between the Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, and his Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed, it was agreed on the financing of Addis Ababa – Massawa railway line, that will offer landlocked Ethiopia access to the sea.
Abiy Ahmed said that Italy agreed to fund the feasibility study on the first phase of the project. “The counterparts held bi-lateral discussions during which they agreed to take their cooperation to the next level in the Addis Ababa – Massawa railway line, following a study to assess the feasibility of the project,” Ethiopian government said.
The line would have 736 km, linking the Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the Red Sea port of Massawa in Eritrea, passing through Mekelle, the capital of the northern Tigray region.
Last year, Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace agreement and reopened two key crossing points after 20 years. The reopening at Burre gives landlocked Ethiopia access to the sea. Another border post, near the Ethiopian town of Zalambessa, also reopened.
The most important railway line in Eritrea offers a connection between Massawa and Asmara and it was constructed by Italy (Eritrea was an Italian colony). After damage suffered by the railway during World War II, the section between Massawa and Asmara was dismantled partially and was only rebuilt in the 1990s by the Eritrean authorities. Originally, the railway network in Eritrea was planned to link the rail networks in Ethiopia and Sudan.

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