Ethiopia is to build its first-ever railway academy in the town of Bishoftu, 45km east of Addis Abeba, spending 1.5 billion Br secured in loans from the Chinese government.
Lee Young, an economic counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Addis Abeba, confirmed that her government approved the fund for the foundation of the academy, signing an agreement almost a month ago with senior managers of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC). The deal was made on December 19, 2017, a week before the Ethiopian-Djibouti Railway began operations.
The project, the only electric-powered rail service in Africa, took four billion Birr to be completed when it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in November 2016. But almost all of its 223 conductors, operators and technicians were trained in China, worrying Corporation’s managers over the forex spent on training.
The academy, sprawling on 151.7ha plot, will have a capacity of enrolling 3,000 students upon starting operation in the next two years, according to a statement the Corporation issued today. It will be erected in two phases. Constructions on the first phase – classes, buildings and sports centres – will begin in September and will incorporate 800-meter railway line to provide practical training to students.