Compagnie Imperiale Chemins de Fer Ethiopiens. Action de Cinq Cents Francs su Porteur. Issued in 1899. Full coupons
The Imperial Railway Company of Ethiopia (often referred to by its French name Compagnie Impériale des Chemins de Fer Éthiopiens) was a semi-private firm founded in 1894 to build and operate a railway across eastern Ethiopia from Addis Ababa to the port of Djibouti in what was at the time French Somaliland. The firm failed in 1906 when political discord halted construction, and it failed to obtain any new capital. The portion it had completed ran from Djibouti to the middle of the Ethiopian desert. Its terminus evolved into the city of Dire Dawa.
Discussion of an Ethiopian railway was initiated by Alfred Ilg, an advisor to Emperor Menelek II. He had attempted to interest the previous emperor and other Ethiopian political figures in the construction of a railway to replace the six-week mule trek between the capital and the French port city, but had no success. When Menelek acceded to the throne in 1889, negotiations began anew and a decree was granted on February 11, 1893, to study the construction of rail line. Ilg, a Swiss citizen, and a number of French associates put together a firm and received a royal charter on March 9, 1894, enabling them to start work. Menelek resisted personally putting any funds into the venture, but did grant a 99-year lease to Ilg and his associates in return for a number of shares in the firm and half of all profits in excess of 3,000,000 francs. Furthermore, the firm was obliged to construct a telegraph line along the route.