ADDIS ABABA, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian and Chinese officials on Saturday hailed joint efforts to achieve Ethiopia's 4 billion trees planting project.
As part of these joint efforts, a tree planting program was done on Saturday in the premises of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway main building in the outskirts of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, which was attended by Chinese and Ethiopian officials.
In May, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed kicked off a mission to plant 4 billion trees across the country, in a bid to stop rising deforestation and help Ethiopia's green economy strategy.
Tilahun Sarka, Director General of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Share Company (EDRSC), said Ethiopia and China have worked together in various fields, with the cooperation on the tree planting initiative serving as the latest example of the expanding bilateral ties between the two nations.
Sarka is already the chief of the 756-km electrified rail project connecting landlocked Ethiopia to Djibouti, which officially started commercial operations in January 2018.
Contracted by two Chinese companies, the first 320-km of the rail project from Sebeta to Mieso was carried out by the China Rail Engineering Corporation (CREC), while the remaining 436-km from Mieso to Djibouti port section was built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
"Today we're here to share the national vision of planting 4 billion trees in Ethiopia, the vision of our Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed," said Sarka. "EDR isn't only Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway, but it's also the friendship project of China, Ethiopia and Djibouti."
"As you know this is a standard gauge electrified railway which is using renewable, environmentally friendly energy. So, we're the best example of an environmentally friendly project," said Sarka.
Zhang Zhenhai, General Manager of the CREC-CCECC Joint Venture, a management contractor of Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway, said his company is ready to help Ethiopia achieve its green economy strategy, including the 4 billion trees planting initiative.
"As a Chinese company in Ethiopia we thought we should contribute from our side for this nice country. We're working together with Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway to achieve this tree planting program," Zhang told Xinhua.
Zhang emphasized China has its own green economy strategy which encompasses tree planting initiatives and commended Ethiopia for starting its own tree planting initiative.
"China has similar kind of program, running from the country level up to the ordinary people level. China lets individual people as well as companies plant trees," said Zhang.
Meanwhile, the 4 billion trees planting initiative has caught news headlines in Ethiopia for the general benefits it has for the country. Some are already envisioning the benefits of the initiative passing to future generations.
One such individual is Radia Souad, a Chief Human Resources Officer at Ethiopia Djibouti Railway Share Company, who brought her two daughters Hawa Abubbaker aged 10 years old and Zemzem Abubaker aged 9 years old to the tree planting program.
"I took my kids to plant trees with me because kids learn from us. They have to learn all the good things from their parents," said Souad.
Souad's long term vision is matched by the enthusiasm of her daughters, who can now find a safe, green and clean environment to play games.
"It's my first time to plant a tree. Trees bring fresh air and happiness, and I want to play many kinds of games with my sisters and brothers under trees," said a visibly excited Hawa Abubbaker.