New railway lines in East Africa establish important economic links between harbours and main cities and cut travel times by several days. These links are often Chinese-funded and Chinese-built, such as the new rail line between the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the port in Djibouti.
CNN reports that between 2004 and 2014, African countries borrowed nearly $10 billion for railway projects from China, facilitated by the China Export Import Bank (Exim).
The new lines are part of the so-called the East African Railway Masterplan, and managed by the East Africa Community (EAC) together with consulting company CPCS.
CNN reports that, according to experts, China sees the railways as an investment opportunity which also creates an export market for their booming steel and construction industries. Deborah Brautigam, professor of international political economy and director of SAIS-CARI, states that the US and other Western countries have not been as keen to invest as China, partly due to a fear that the African countries won't keep up the maintenance.
The CNN report lists a great number of railway projects on the continent, in various phases of progress.
Further reading on CNN