Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang will inaugurate the six-lane Addis-Adama expressway, which was completed recently after three years of construction, on Monday, May 5, 2014.
The Chinese premiere is also expected to sign 17 agreements with Ethiopia, focusing mainly on financial support for economic and technical cooperation. Legal and cultural sectors, visa and immigration related issues, as well as education, will also be a part of the agreement, says Dina Mufti, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
The biggest achievement for Ethiopian officials, however, according to sources, will be convincing Keqiang to advance loans amounting to over a billion dollars to build the transmission line and substations that link power generated from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam(GERD) to the national GRID. The State Grid Corporation of China is the most hopeful candidate for the job, say the sources, despite enormous diplomatic pressure from Egypt to stop the loan. Egypt has previously successfully lobbied to hinder Chinese loans for the Chemoga Dam.
Constructed by the Chinese Company, China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) with a 350 million dollar loan from the Export-Import Bank of China (ExIm), the six-lane expressway is aimed at relieving traffic congestion and reducing frequent accidents on the busy Addis-Adama route, which is also Ethiopia's gateway to Djibouti. The consultant for the project was Beijing Expressway, a subsidiary of Beijing Enterprises Holdings.
The inauguration ceremony is scheduled to take place at Tulu Dimtu, located 2.8km from Akaki town in the Oromia Special Zone.
The expressway starts from Tulu Dimtu and links with Dukem, Bishoftu (45 km), and Modjo (71 km from Addis Abeba), before reaching Adama. There will be a toll-gate at Addis Abeba and Adama, with others at six interchanges.
The three-day visit will also take the Prime Minister to the Eastern Industrial Zone, located in Dukem town (35 km south of Addis Abeba), on the same day. The Industrial Zone lies on five square kilometres of land and most of the occupants are Chinese manufacturing companies. The projects in which the Chinese companies are engaged include the textiles and garments, shoes, leather and leather products, food, electrical materials and steel manufacturing sectors. The Zone could employ 20,000 local people.
The visit will include the Alert Hospital in the Zenebeworq area of Kolfe Keranio District.
Expected to arrive in Addis Abeba today, Keqiang will go on to visit Kenya, Angola and Nigeria afterwards. He will hold discussions with Prime Minister Hailemariam and President Mulatu Teshome (PhD).
Ethio-China diplomatic relations date back to 1970 and have strengthened through time. Currently, China is one of Ethiopia's main partners in infrastructure development, construction and technology and China is Ethiopia's number one investor, followed by India and Turkey.