Ethiopia eyes regional integration through highways

ADDIS ABABA (AA) – Ethiopia is pinning high hopes that the construction of a network of inter-state highways that connects it with its East Africa neighbors would help achieve the aspired economic integration in the region.

“The roads would link Ethiopia with Sudan, Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti,” Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) Communication Director Samson Wondimu told Anadolu Agency.

The inter-state highways, which would stretch through 2000 kilometers, are expected to “play a significant role in bringing about economic and social integration in the region,” Wondimu added.

According to the official, the network would also be instrumental in creating more access to maritime ports for Ethiopia, a country that became landlocked following the 1991 cessation of Eritrea.

A total of $610.6 million has been allocated for the implementation of the Ethiopian part of the project, with the funds coming from the Ethiopian government, international financial institutions and donor organizations.

One of the highways is Assosa-Kumruk road, which would help Ethiopia get access to Port Sudan, Samson said. Another is the 324-kiolomter Shire-Adigosh-Humera-Lugdi, which also provides a shortcut to Port Sudan from the northern part of Ethiopia.

The roads would help Ethiopia export agricultural products to Sudan and import petroleum and other goods on the other way around, he said.

“Ethiopia has also constructed 122-kilometer Gambella-Etang-Jikawo asphalt road linking it to South Sudan,” Samson said. “This road is believed to attract investment to the nascent country and also enhance socio-economic development [in South Sudan].”

He said a 260- kilometer Mizanteferi-Boma concrete asphalt is yet another inter-state highway linking Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Meanwhile, well under construction in the southern region is also the Mombasa–Nairobi–Addis Ababa road corridor.

“It is an important part of the Trans-African Highway Corridor project stretching from Cairo in Egypt to Cape Town in South Africa,” Wondimu said.

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