Addis Ababa now boasts Sub-Saharan Africa’s first renewable energy-powered light-rail train and leads a modal shift for urban public transport on the continent.

In September 2015, Addis Ababa inaugurated Sub-Saharan Africa’s first light-rail train (LRT). The LRT, an inner-city tram, can carry up to 60,000 people per hour, and after 10 months of operation, ridership has reached 15,000 passengers per hour in each direction. The train is powered by Ethiopia’s power grid, which is fueled almost exclusively by hydropower, geothermal, and wind power. Emissions reductions from the project are estimated to grow from 55,000 tons of CO2 per year in 2015 to 170,000 tons CO2 per year by 2030. The more efficient mode of transportation is expected to stimulate the local economy and attract new investments and will become a blueprint for local expansion and regional replication.

The project is the fruit of an international multi-stakeholder collaboration that involved different levels of the Ethiopian government, foreign banks, and the Chinese government. It is also an important tenet of the Addis Ababa Climate Resilient Growth Economy plan to drive the transition to a green economy.

1.8 million tons of CO2 by 2030 in projected emissions reduction

The challenge

Transportation accounts for 47% of the CO2 emissions in Addis Ababa. The renewable energy-powered LRT reduces greenhouse gas emissions while bringing clean and efficient transportation to city dwellers.


Economic More than 1,100 jobs were created to operate the LRT after its opening. The Ethiopian government also expects to spend less foreign currency to purchase oil.

Environmental The LRT is less land-intensive than conventional roads, which will decrease the burden on ecosystems.

Health The city expects a decrease in particulate emission that will reduce the incidence of heart and respiratory diseases.

Social The city’s average transport speed is improved from 10km/hr by road traffic to 22km/hr with LRT, which significantly reduces the commuting time of workers in the city.

About Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia. It has a population of 3,384,569 according to the 2007 population census, with annual growth rate of 3.8%. As a chartered city, Addis Ababa has the status of both a city and a state. It is where the African Union is and its predecessor the OAU was based. It also hosts the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and numerous other continental and international organizations.

Addis Ababa
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