ABB helps connect the Ethiopian countryside to neighboring countries

May 5, 2017 - Innovative traction power supply solution.

ABB helps connect the Ethiopian countryside to neighboring countries

Africa is the world’s second most populous continent and is expected to grow nearly twice as fast as the rest of the world, reaching 4.4 billion people by 2100. It is estimated that half a billion people in Africa today still live without electricity. The continent has immense natural resources, yet its energy and transportation costs are among the highest in the world.

ABB has activities in key growing markets within Africa. For more than two years, ABB has been working on the electrical power supply of a five-year railway project, called the Awash-Kombolcha-Hara Gebaya line, a turnkey project constructed by a Turkish company Yapı Merkezi Construction Inc. The line will link Ethiopia’s northern and eastern main traffic corridors. ABB is working on an extension of the 400 kilometer line that begins in the city of Awash, in the east of Ethiopia and reaches Weldia/Hara Gebaya in the north. This project is part of the Ethiopian government’s plan to improve transportation within the country by building eight rail corridors by 2020 that will link the countryside to adjacent countries and ports.

Ethiopia plans to build a vast 5,000 km network of rail by 2020, connecting it to Kenya and Sudan. The first line opened at the end of 2016. It is more than 750 km long and connects the capital, Addis Ababa, with the port of Djibouti, the neighboring country. This is a major transport corridor for both passenger and freight traffic between the two countries to import and export goods from the Djibouti deep sea harbor.

Before the route opening, freight travelled by road from Djibouti’s port to Addis Ababa would take more than three weeks; the new railway connection takes days rather than weeks to get the container from Djibouti to Addis Ababa. This is an important route as landlocked Ethiopia currently imports and exports nearly 90% of its goods through the Djibouti port. The journey for a passenger has been cut from three days by road to about 12 hours by train.

“ABB is well-positioned to help countries in Africa realize their growth potential, with our technologies, domain expertise and, most importantly, extensive experience in emerging economy development projects,” said Claudio Facchin, President of ABB Power Grids. “Africa is a key focus area for us and we remain committed to contributing to the development of power, rail and other infrastructure areas across the continent.”

ABB is providing eight traction substations for the Awash-Kombolcha-Hara Gebaya line: five of these will be connected to the 132kV grid and three connected to the 230kV grid. Key equipment to be supplied includes high-voltage switchgear, traction transformers rated at 25 megavolt-ampere, auxiliary and power factor correction transformers, medium-voltage switchgear, FSK II+ railway circuit breakers, auxiliary power supply equipment and instrument transformers.

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