Transport in Ethiopia

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A new highway in Ethiopia (2007)

Transport in Ethiopia is overseen by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Over the last seven years, the Ethiopian federal authorities have significantly increased funding for road construction. Road projects now represent around a quarter of the annual infrastructure budget. Additionally, through the Road Sector Development Program (RSDP), the government has earmarked $4 billion to construct, repair and upgrade roads over the next decade.[1]


Ethopia is building a standard gauge railway network to connect the major population centers with each other and with ports on the Gulf of Aden. Ethiopia has currently 656 km of railways, which almost entirely consists of the electrified Addis Ababa – Djibouti Railway. The railway, opened in October 2016, links the capital of Ethiopia to the Port of Djibouti, providing landlocked Ethiopia with an economically much needed link to a Red Sea port. It allows a travel time from Addis Ababa to Djibouti City in less than twelve hours with a designated speed of 120 km/hour.[2] Other railways are under construction.


An auto transporter passes along a highway in the Lake Beseka region of central Ethiopia
An Anbessa City Bus Service Enterprise bus with DAF chassis at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa
A highway to Hawzen, one of the many new roads built through the governmental Road Sector Development Program (RSDP)

As the first part of a 10-year Road Sector Development Program, between 1997 and 2002 the Ethiopian government began a sustained effort to improve its infrastructure of roads. As a result, as of 2002 Ethiopia has a total (federal and regional) 33,297 km of roads, both paved and gravel. The share of federally managed roads in good quality improved from 14% in 1995 to 31% in 2002 as a result of this program, and to 89% in 2009[3] the road density increased from 21 km per 1000 km2 (in 1995) to 889 km; per 1000 km2 (in 2009) however, this is much greater than the average of 50 km per 1000 km2 for Africa.[4]

The Ethiopian government had begun the second part of the Road Sector Development Program, which was completed in 2007. This had involved the upgrading or construction of over 7,500 km of roads, with the goal of improving the average road density for Ethiopia to 35 km per 1000 km2, and reduce the proportion of the country area that is more than 5 km from an all-weather road from 75% to 70%.[5]

According to the Government of Ethiopia, it has spent over 600 billion birr (USD $50 billion, €30 billion) on infrastructure since 1990.

  • total (regional and federal): 101,359 km[3] (2009)
  • asphalt: 90,336 km[3] (2009) (89% of the roads in Ethiopia is asphalt)
  • gravel: 11,023 km[3] (2009) (11% of the roads in Ethiopia is gravel)
  • maintained by Regional government: 86,580 km (2009)

Major roads include:
No 1: north east from Addis Ababa 853 km via Adama and Awash to Bure on Eritrean border
No 2: north from Addis Ababa 1071 km via Dessie, Mek'ele and Adigrat to Axum
No 3: north west from Addis Ababa across the Blue Nile at Dejen and again at Bahir Dar east around Lake Tana 737 km to Gondar. Designated part of the Cairo-Cape Town Trans-African Highway 4 (TAH 4)
No 4: west from Addis Ababa 445 km via Nekemte to Gimbi
No 5: west from Addis Ababa 510 km via Jimma to Metu
No 6: south west from Jimma 216 km to Mizan Teferi
No 7: south from Mojo 432 km via Shashamane and Sodo to Arba Minch. Part of road between Mojo and Shashamane is designated part of the Cairo-Cape Town Trans-African Highway 4 (TAH 4)
No 8: south from Shashamane 214 km via Awasa to Hagere Mariam. Designated part of the Cairo-Cape Town Trans-African Highway 4 (TAH 4)
No 9: south from Adama 77 km to Asella
No 10: east from Awash 572 km via Harar and Jijiga to Degehabur


The Addis Ababa–Adama Expressway was completed in 2014 as the first expressway in Ethiopia. In December 2015, construction began on a second expressway between Awasa and Mojo, where it will connect to the existing expressway.[6]

In addition, the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) has undertaken a three year project to upgrade over 370 km of roads in the country. Contracts have been signed with the Ethiopian Defense Construction, China Railway Engineering, Eney Construction, China Wuyi, Yotek Construction and FAL General Contractor.[7][8]

Dangers of vehicular transport[edit]

It is said that Ethiopia has the highest rates of traffic fatalities per vehicle in the world. This is due to many factors. For example, the roads are poorly maintained, lightened and marked; which are major factors in road accidents. Another major factor is the people themselves, who ignore the rules of the road. Their disregard of road safety puts every other driver at risk. Due to this, foreigners are advised to keep a safe distance from the car in front of them because the driving is unpredictable; anything can happen in the blink of an eye. Even the surroundings involving transport can be incredibly dangerous. For example, there are instances when carjackings and robberies occur on highways or streets that are away from the public eye. Due to this, people are forced to be highly alert of their surroundings, such as checking to make sure no one is lurking around their vehicle before entering and avoiding nighttime travel.[9]

Ports and harbours[edit]

Ethiopia is landlocked and was by agreement with Eritrea using the ports of Asseb and Massawa; since the Eritrean-Ethiopian War, Ethiopia has used the port of Djibouti for nearly all of its imports. Only one river, the Baro is used for transport.

Merchant marine[edit]

Total: 12 ships (with a volume of 1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over) totaling 84,915 GRT/112,634 tonnes deadweight (DWT) (1999 est.); 9 ships (with a volume of 1,000 GRT or over) 81,933 GRT/101,287 DWT (2003 est.)
ships by type: cargo ship 7; container ship 1; petroleum tanker 1; roll-on/roll-off ship 3 (1999 est.), 1 (2003 est.)


Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 757-23N at Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa (2008)

There were an estimated 84 airports in 2005, only 14 of which had paved runways as of 2005. The Addis Ababa Airport handles international jet transportation. Before the Ethiopian civil war, the national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, flew to numerous African, Asian, and European cities, and had sole rights on domestic air traffic. In 2003, about 1.147 million passengers were carried on domestic and international flights.

Paved runways

total: 14
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2003 est.)

Unpaved runways

total: 68
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 13
914 to 1,523 m: 27
under 914 m: 23 (2003 est.)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Infrastructure". Government of Ethiopia. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "Ethiopia-Djibouti electric railway line opens". Retrieved 2016-10-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d Malone, Barry (28 Oct 2009). "Ethiopia earmarks almost $1 billion for roads". 
  4. ^ "Ethiopia - Second Road Sector Development Program Project", p.3 (World Bank Project Appraisal Document, 19 May 2003)
  5. ^ World Bank, "Second Road Sector", p.11
  6. ^ "$700m Ethiopian highway gets started after four-year search for funding". Global Construction Review. 18 December 2015. 
  7. ^ Yohannes, Frehiwot (2017-02-02). "Ethiopia: Road Projects Expanding, Authority Awards Billions". Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa). Retrieved 2017-02-14. 
  8. ^
  9. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website