Ethiopia’s $865m rail finance part of $15bn rail projects

China rolling stock for Ethiopia (photo from: www.tigraionline.com)

China rolling stock for Ethiopia (photo from: www.tigraionline.com)

The Ethiopian Government recently closed a $865 million financing package to fund part of the development of the country’s giant new railway infrastructure. One banker on the deal was reported by Reuters as saying: “This is a huge financing for Ethiopia, it is the first commercial deal of this size we have seen. Banks have a growing appetite for the Ethiopian market and we expect to see more deals like this.”

ERC is busy with 8 railway routes stretching 5,060 km, at a cost of $2m-$3m per kilometre. This includes rebuilding the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway and lines heading north and south-west. A 36.5km mass transit railway is also being built in the capital, Addis Abeba.

The latest financing is split between a $450m commercial loan for 7 years, which includes a syndicate of lenders from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the US, and pays 375 basis points over Libor. There is also a $415m 13-year loan backed by the Swedish Export Credit Guarantee Board (EKN) with Eksport Kredit Fonden (EKF) and Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV) export-credit agencies also included. The financing will be used to build the Awash-Weldia/Hara Gebeya Railway Project, one of the key railway corridors that will form part of the national railway network and connect northern and central parts of Ethiopia.

Turkey’s global rail company

Parastatal Ethiopian Railways Corporation (ERC) is undertaking the project construction, which will be built in the next 3 years. Turkey’s Yapi Merkezi Insaat ve Sanayi AS is the appointed contractor on the project and will design and construct the 389km railway line starting north east of Awash and going north through Kombolcha to Weldia under a 3-year $1.7bn project signed with ERC in Dec 2012. It will connect with the Addis Abeba-Djibouti line being built and with the Woldia/Hara Gebeya-Semera-Dicheto-Elidar project which will connect northern Ethiopia with Tajourah port in Djibouti, according to this report.

Credit Suisse acted as co-ordinating commercial facility arranger and export credit agency facility lead arranger. Some of the loans have already been disbursed. In addition, Deutsche Bank was the mandated lead arrangers for the EKF financing ($181m), ING Bank for the EKN financing ($83m) and KfW IPEX-Bank for SERV backed facilities ($151m).

In addition, Turk Eximbank provided a parallel financing of $300 million for the Turkish goods and services under the same project. Yapi Merkezi is a leading transportation infrastructure company and built the Dubai Metro Project, Casablanca tramline and Ankara-Konya high-speed rail line.

The financing has also been arranged under the OECD Common Approaches for Officially-Supported Export Credits and Environmental and Social Due Diligence which commit OECD countries to taking environmental and social impacts into account when granting officially supported export credits.

China’s $3bn finance to reach Djibouti

Export-Import Bank of China has pledged loans totalling $3bn to support Chinese railway construction companies on the 756km line from Addis to Djibouti, according to this in-depth overview of Ethiopian and Chinese relations. It runs parallel to the abandoned Imperial Railway Company of Ethiopia track built between 1894 and 1917. China will also provide most of the rolling stock, including locomotives worth millions, according to this story in Financial Times.

India to add $300m

In June 2013, India’s Exim Bank approved a $300m loan at 1.75% interest to finance a link from Asaita (670km from Addis) to Djibouti’s planned port at Tajourah. Debo Tunka, deputy CEO and head of infrastructure development at ERC reportedly said: “The new line will be very important for Ethiopia because it will give us an access to a second port and boost economic activities in the country,” The credit will be released once feasibility studies are done and contractors are still to be appointed. Tajourah will have a dedicated terminal for shipments from Allana Potash which is developing a $642m potash in northeast Ethiopia, according to Bloomberg.

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