by Habtamu Liben
ADDIS ABABA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian experts and officials have voiced support for Chinese development endeavors in Ethiopia, saying they are important to Ethiopia's economic ambitions.
Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, an economic adviser to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA), said in an interview with Xinhua that Chinese-funded and built infrastructure projects in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa are "both timely and important."
"Infrastructure is the mainstay of any economy. Unless you have roads, railways, airports, and energy production, the economy will suffer," Costantinos said.
With regards to the Ethio-Djibouti railway, built by Chinese companies to connect Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti, Costantinos affirmed that it would highly benefit land-locked Ethiopia.
"We have expected a lot from this railway and it will help Ethiopia's growing economy that demands a growing import from abroad and export to the rest of the world," he said, adding that "the investment will not only help the transport of goods but also transport of people among Ethiopians and with the people of Djibouti."
The expert's view has been shared by other Ethiopian government officials, who believed the Chinese infrastructure projects would facilitate Ethiopia's export transportation demands.
Ahmed Shide, Ethiopian Minister of Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO), told Xinhua that China has not only become Ethiopia's top economic partner but a model for Ethiopia's economic ambitions.
Shide said having seen China's success in having an efficient infrastructure to facilitate exports from industrial parks, Ethiopia is building a "development belt" to copy the Chinese success story.
The "development belt" will see Ethiopia build industrial parks located along the path of existing or under-construction rail lines to speedily transport products made in industrial parks to ports in neighboring Djibouti.
According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), Chinese companies, with close to 379 projects that were either operational or under implementation during the past five years, are on top of Ethiopia's investment landscape both in terms of number and capital.
Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu, who called for strengthening the socioeconomic partnership between Ethiopia and China recently, also said that the ties between the two countries has shown consistent upward trajectory over the past years.
Gebeyehu said the relationship between Ethiopia and China "has grown to an excellent level, where the two countries enjoy a comprehensive cooperation and partnership."
The newly appointed Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia Tan Jian also said the partnership between Ethiopia and China could be seen as a role model for the South-South cooperation.
"The relationship between Ethiopia and China is based on comprehensive, strategic and cooperative partnership in all areas and at all levels," Tan said in an interview with Xinhua. Tan also stressed cooperation in human resource development and science and technology.
"The bond between the two peoples is very important and it should be the foundation for the relationship between China and Ethiopia," Tan said.