Sub-Saharan Africa’s First Light-Rail Train

Location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Population: 3,384,569 (urban population)

Climate: Subtropical highland

Duration: 2011-2015

Sector: Transport

Funding sources: Public

City networks: C40

Savings: By 2030, 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) are predicted to be decreased.

Solutions: To install the first light rail train (LRT) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Multiple benefits: The project brings environmental, social, economic and health co-benefits.

Addis Ababa is leading a modal shift for urban public transportation with the continent’s first renewable energy-powered light-rail train network.

Objective – By implementing an LTR, it will be possible to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while also providing clean and efficient transportation to city dwellers.

Solutions – Addis Abeba opened Sub-Saharan Africa’s first light rail train (LRT) in September 2015. The LRT, an inner-city tram, can carry up to 60,000 people per hour, and ridership has reached 15,000 passengers per hour in each direction after ten months of operation. The train is powered by Ethiopia’s power grid, virtually entirely powered by hydropower, geothermal energy, and wind power.

China Railway Group Limited was awarded the contract for the railway. After receiving loans from the Export-Import Bank of China, the Ethiopian Railways Corporation commenced constructing the double track electrified light rail transit project in December 2011. The trial operations began on February 1, 2015, with several months of testing following, and the Shenzhen Metro Group operates it (source).

FundingThe railway’s final cost was US$475 million, with funds provided by China’s Export-Import Bank (source).

Innovation – Addis Ababa currently has the first renewable energy-powered light-rail train in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country is leading a modal change for urban public transportation on the continent (source).

Success factors: The initiative results from a multi-stakeholder international collaboration that includes various levels of the Ethiopian government, foreign banks, and the Chinese government. It is also a key pillar of Addis Ababa’s Climate Resilient Growth Economic plan, aiming to accelerate the transition to a green economy.

Significant outcomes

  • Environmental: The project is expected to reduce CO2 emissions from 55,000 tons per year in 2015 to 170,000 tons per year by 2030;
  • Economically, the more efficient form of transportation is projected to boost the local economy, attract new investments, and serve as a local extension and regional replication model.

Synergies with local policies:

  • Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The Action Agenda provides a firm framework for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s implementation. It establishes a new global foundation for financing sustainable development by coordinating all finance flows and policies with economic, social, and environmental concerns, particularly those in the transportation sector (sources).
  • Strategic Comprehensive Transport Development Plan (SCTDP) for Addis Ababa guides transport development between now and 2030. Based on the research of urban transportation patterns, the Transport Master Plan calls for creating a travel demand model for all forms of transportation in Addis Ababa. The Plan will also serve as the foundation for a new transportation vision and sector-specific transportation plans for the city’s rising population.

Political alignment:

  • 10-year development plan. This plan lays out the government’s development strategy for 2020-2030. Among its targets is to reduce pollution, increase the production of electricity from renewable sources, and focus on modern and energy-saving technologies;
  • Updated National Determined Contribution. The country plans to reduce economy-wide GHG emissions by 12.4 per cent in 2030 compared to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. One of the targets regarding policy intervention is transport electrification and increasing the share of public transport, including railways (sources);
  • Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Transport Sector Strategy. Improving transport services and infrastructure over the next 15 years was a major focus of the Strategy’s development;
  • National Adaptation Plan intends to improve the holistic integration of climate change adaptation into Ethiopia’s long-term development strategy. NAP-ETH focuses on the sectors identified as the most vulnerable, particularly transportation, intending to develop sustainable transportation systems. This adaption option will prioritize the protection and improvement of transportation infrastructure;
  • The Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) II establishes some renewable and biofuel energy generation targets. One of its objectives is to accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient transportation systems (sources).

Marketability: N/A

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Sector: Transport

Country / Region: Ethiopia

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: Cities 100