development politics technology transport

Rebuilding Africa’s transport network

africa-india-railways

There are some interesting contrasts between India’s railways and Africa’s. The keyword is perhaps ‘network’ – India has one, Africa doesn’t. In India you can use the trains to travel from one part of the country to another. In Africa you can use the trains, if they’re running at all, to move things to and from the coast.

Africa’s railways are an export system, designed to move raw materials from inland mines and plantations to the ports. It’s very obvious who the intended trading partners were – this system clearly wasn’t built to facilitate inter-African trade.

direction-of-african-tradeConsequently, only 11% of trade in Africa is with other African countries, and around 61% of exports go to industrialised countries.

By contrast, 63% of EU trading is with other members.

Transport infrastructure isn’t the only factor. There are real problems with unnecessary regional tariffs, customs are slow and corrupt, but it remains a huge hindrance.  Localised trade ought to be cheaper, and better for the environment. African countries are missing out on billions of dollars worth of trade.

Which is why DfID’s announcement last week was particularly welcome – the UK government has agreed a partnership with a number of Africa regional organisations to improve transport infrastructure. The deal will “free up bottlenecks that lie on the main trading routes across eight African countries with faster border crossing, improved railways and new super highways.”

The $1 billion investment package will roll out across eight African countries over the next decade. This will facilitate both regional trade and wider exports, particularly for landlocked countries and inland areas.

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5 comments

  1. Is the Proposed Trans Global Highway a solution for future population concerns and global warming?

    One excellent solution to future population concerns as well as alleviating many of the effects of potential global warming is the Frank Didik proposal for the construction of the “Trans Global Highway”. The Didik proposed Trans Global Highway would create a world wide network of standardized roads, railroads, water pipe lines, oil and gas pipelines, electrical and communication cables. The result of this remarkable, far sighted project will be global unity through far better distribution of resources, including heretofore difficult to obtain or unaccessible raw materials, fresh water, finished products and lower global transportation costs.

    With greatly expanded global fresh water distribution, arid lands could be cultivated resulting in a huge abundance of global food supplies. The most conservative estimate is that with the construction of the Trans Global Highway, the planet will be able to feed several billion more people, using presently available modern farming technologies. With the present global population of just under 7 billion people and at the United Nations projection of population increase, the world will produce enough food surpluses to feed the expected increased population for several hundred years.

    Thomas Robert Malthus’s famous dire food shortage predictions of 1798 and his subsequent books, over the next 30 years, failed to take into consideration modern advances in farming, transportation, food storage and food abundance. Further information on the proposed Trans Global Highway can be found at http://www.TransGlobalHighway.com .

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