Chinese attendants take a selfie before the start of the first passenger train of the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Oct. 5, 2016. (Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)
ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopia-Djibouti railway has proven to the world the prowess of the Chinese railway industry, paving the way for Chinese standards to enter more overseas markets, said Li Changjin, board chairman of the China Railway Group (CREC).
The Chinese-built railway, which is Africa's first modern electrified railway, links the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the port of Djibouti in Djibouti. Constructed by CREC and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, the 752.7-km railway was officially inaugurated on Wednesday.
A new train stops at a railway station in suburban Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct. 1, 2016. (Xinhua/Sun Ruibo)
"In the process of building the railway, we paid great importance to construction quality and were determined to build it with high standards, presenting to the world state-of-the-art Chinese quality and Chinese standards," said Li in an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday.
Li, who was here to attend a ceremony officially launching the railway, said the successful construction of the railway will have positive exemplary effects on the African market, promoting the acceptance of Chinese standards by Africa and the world at large.
Many African countries are learning and gradually accepting the Chinese railway technology standards, he said, citing the examples of Kenya's Mombasa-Nairobi railway and Angola's Benguela railway, which have all adopted Chinese standards.
While constructing the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, the Chinese contractor made adaptations and innovations according to local conditions on the basis of Chinese standards, he said.
During the construction of a railway section in Ethiopia, for example, the Chinese contractor found that filling materials for railway bed were in great shortage. Long-distance shipping cost would be exorbitantly high while supply still cannot be guaranteed.
But the abundant scoria available in the region sparked an inspiration. The Chinese builders used a combination of scoria and clay as bed fillings, a method ultimately applied to the entire project, saving construction cost and enhancing efficiency, he said.
The completion of the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway will play a major role in boosting the economic development in East Africa and that in the depth and breadth of Africa, said Li, noting that cargoes shipped from Asian countries can be transported to Ethiopia and other African countries via the railway.
In fact, even before the official launch, the railway had already played a role in facilitating humanitarian assistance. As of October 3, CREC had transported nearly 90,000 tons of disaster relief materials at the request of the Ethiopian government.
"The Ethiopia-Djibouti railway is an extension and development of China-Africa historical friendship. It also marks a good beginning of the Belt and Road initiative in Africa," he added.
The Chinese initiative refers to building a Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.