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Sub-Saharan Africa's first light-rail opens in Addis Ababa

The tram system in Ethiopia's capital city that opened this week was built and largely financed by China. (EPA/SOLAN KOLLI/LANDOV)

Addis Ababa launched a much-anticipated tram days ago thanks in large part to China. AFP reports that the two-line light-rail system was built by the China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC). China’s Exim Bank covered 85 percent of the US$475 million price tag, the article says.

The tram is the latest example of how Chinese developers, architects and engineers are leaving their imprimatur on Africa’s cities. The 21 mile (34 km) system is the first tram to be located in sub-Saharan Africa. It is expected to help alleviate road congestion and provide an alternative to banged up, diesel-belching minibuses known as “blue donkeys.”

The north-south line was inaugurated on Sunday; an east-west line is scheduled to open next month. When complete, the network would be able to accommodate 60,000 passengers per hour, the news wire reports. Ethiopia’s capital is undergoing a building boom that has sparked deadly protests over concerns about the rapid pace of construction.


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