The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway and the national question in Ethiopia: A bottom-up view

Sharon Bar-David, Lynn Schler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The new Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway was built and financed by Chinese state-owned firms and banks, replacing a rail line initially built in the era of Emperor Menelik II (1844-1913). This railway cuts across a range of geographic, political, social, and cultural landscapes of Ethiopia, and serves as a new kind of link between them. While the geopolitical significance of the railway line has been studied within the broader context of research into Chinese interventions in Africa, relatively little attention has been paid to how local populations situated across the railway line have experienced and interpreted this massive Chinese infrastructure project. Through the examination of testimonies and experiences of local populations situated along the line, this chapter offers new evidence and understandings of the impacts of Chinese interventions in Africa from the viewpoint of local societies. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway has led to a range of economic developments, and these have created new opportunities. At the same time, the venture has also exposed inequalities between the various actors whose lives have been impacted by the railway, and these have enflamed social, economic, and political tensions along the route.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationAfrica’s Railway Renaissance
Subtitle of host publicationThe Role and Impact of China
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781000919202
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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