Ethiopia is building a standard gauge railway network, the National Railway Network of Ethiopia, planned to consist of up to 5,000 km of railways in a number of years. The railway network serves a strategic goal to allow Ethiopia a sustainable and stable economic development. The railway network's primary purpose is then both to connect landlocked Ethiopia to the world market by ensuring a seamless access to one or several sea ports for trade and for transporting most imports and exports. The rail transport of goodsappears favorable – if compared to road transport – in terms of volume, costs, safety and speed of transportation for both imports and exports. The primary port for Ethiopia is the Port of Djibouti in Djibouti. More than 95% of Ethiopia's trade passes through Djibouti.
The port of Djibouti is served by one international railway, the electrified standard gauge 756 km long Addis Ababa – Djibouti Railway(of which 656 km run in Ethiopia). This railway has officially been opened in October 2016 but it is in trial service with no regular traffic in 2017. Once operational by the end of 2017 or in 2018, it will allow passenger transport and a travel time from Addis Ababa to Djibouti City in less than twelve hours with a designated speed of 120 km/hour.
Another railway, the Awash – Hara Gebeya Railway will go into trial service over its first 270 km in 2018. This second railway links Addis Ababa and the Addis Ababa – Djibouti Railway with the north of Ethiopia. Once operational over its first 270 km, possibly 2018 or 2019, it will allow both freight and passenger transport. A train ride from Addis Ababa to the twin cities of Kombolcha and Dessie will be possible in around six hours with a designated speed of 120 km/hour.
Road projects now represent around a quarter of the annual infrastructure budget of the Ethiopian federal government. Additionally, through the Road Sector Development Program (RSDP), the government has earmarked $4 billion to construct, repair and upgrade roads over the next decade.
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 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.
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%.
According to the Government of Ethiopia, it has spent over 600 billion birr (USD $50 billion, €30 billion) on infrastructure since 1990.
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.
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.
Dangers of vehicular transport
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.