Ethiopia has forged two deals with Turkish and Chinese companies to build a railway connecting the landlocked country to Djibouti, the Ethiopian Railway Corporation (ERC) said.
The railway will be built at a cost of $3.2 billion (2.6 billion euros) and will reach Djibouti's Tadjourah port, on the northern coast of the Horn of Africa nation.
Turkish company Yapi Merkezi will construct 447 kilometres (277 miles) while China Communications Construction Company will build 268 kilometres (166 miles) of the railway.
State-run ERC, which already operates a railway line to the main port of Djibouti city, said the project is expected to be completed by 2015.
The foreign ministry said the railway will transport potash for export from Ethiopia's northern region.
"The agreement is another element in the project of building a railway from northern Ethiopia to Tadjourah in Djibouti, giving Ethiopia alternative port access and providing an outlet for potash development," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Railway construction is a central component of Ethiopia's five-year plan to boost economic growth, with plans to construct 1,200 kilometres of railway between 2010 and 2015.
Ethiopia has a long-term vision of becoming a middle-income country by 2025.
Chinese firms have traditionally been involved in infrastructure development in Ethiopia, but have recently expanded their commercial activities, including in manufacturing.
Turkish and Indian firms are also major investors in Ethiopia, including in agriculture and textile ventures.