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African workshops help power Djibouti growth

By EDITH MUTETHYA | China Daily | Updated: 2019-04-01 09:06
Students are learning how to drive a train on a simulator in Luban Workshop in Djibouti. LIU HONGJIE/CHINA DAILY

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is helping to significantly reduce infrastructure deficits in Africa, with latest vocational training programs also equipping local communities with appropriate skills to fully benefit from and participate in the development projects.

Last week, the first Luban training workshop of its kind was launched in Djibouti to supplement other ongoing capacity-building efforts across the continent.

The move is part of the 10 Luban Workshops that President Xi Jinping-during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit held in Beijing-said would be set up in Africa.

Since 2016, several of the workshops have been opened in other parts of the world, including India, Thailand, Pakistan and a number of European countries.

The Djibouti Luban Workshop seeks to equip youth with railway and ports operation skills and related capabilities.

Djibouti President Ismail Guelleh said at the workshop launch that the skills acquired through the project will be vital for the operation of Djibouti ports and the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway line.

The East African country, which aims to be a global logistics and trade hub of the continent, has been investing extensively in development of state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities through partnerships with China.

According to the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, the ports can handle a combined 13 million metric tons of cargo a year and take up a significant part of landlocked neighboring country Ethiopia's external trade.

To facilitate the smooth transportation of goods between them, the two sides constructed the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway, also known as the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway-touted as the first modern electrified standard-gauge railway line in Africa.

Abdillahi Darar, a teacher at the Djibouti Industrial and Commercial Vocational School, the host of the Djibouti Luban Workshop, said: "The Ethiopia-Djibouti railway is expected to be expanded to South Africa. We therefore need to equip the students with the technical skills to make them ready for the project."

The Tianjin Railway Technical and Vocational College will support the teaching of railway operation, management and engineering courses, Darar said, with a train simulator set up for practical lessons.

"Students will study at the workshop for two years, after which they will further their studies in China for one year," he said.

Hassan Mohamed, deputy general manager of the Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway, said the Luban Workshop will provide strong support for high-quality technical skills training, consequently improving the capacity of railway staff to better serve the major link.

Zhuo Ruisheng, the Chinese ambassador to Djibouti, said the African country requires a pool of talent to achieve its Vision 2035 target of becoming a regional logistics and business hub.

"President Guelleh attaches great importance to vocational and technical training. The launch of the Djibouti Luban Workshop is thus in response to that," Zhuo said.

The workshop will include academic and vocational training by sharing high-quality resources, Zhuo said.

Yuan Li, the president of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corp, said the workshop will cultivate professional talent for the country in line with its national development needs.

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