Transport System in Africa Essay

As for the transportation networks in Africa, this is one of the factors that has a great influence on the economic and social development of this region. Lack of effective and reliable transportation networks in Africa hinders production and trade, and therefore the developments in this sphere have been the focus of many international organizations.

There is a clear and consistent need to facilitate the development of transportation networks in Africa, since ‘[p]oor roads result in high transport costs, which undermine Africa’s competitiveness.’ (Van de Walle, 2001, p.86)

If Africa aims at becoming a part of the global economy, transportation development should be firmly placed at top of agenda by all the governments.

The major problems with the transportation in Africa include undeveloped, ineffective, and even inexistent networks in many parts of the continent. The enduring economic crisis prevents governments from allocating resources for the development of this sphere. Moreover, frequent armed conflicts devastate existing networks and discourage the construction of new ones.

For example, the number of locations with airports is the smallest out of all the regions in the world (Guimera, Mossa, Turtschi & Amaral, 2005):

Region No. of locations
Africa 364
Asia and Middle East 719
Europe 691
Latin America 523
North America 1,064
Oceania 522


At the Regional Summits on the International Society, the regional priority for Africa was specifically the development of transportation, while other regions were concentrating their effort on such sophisticated issues as e-commerce and distant learning.

The situation is especially drastic in rural areas that are completely cut from the rest of the world. Large areas survive only due to subsistence farming and animal-powered transport.

The situation in the former colonies is much better than generally across the continent. The reason for that is that in the past the colonial governments paid much attention to the development of transport infrastructure. They had three major reasons for investing in this sphere. First of all, the empires were interested in the development of trade ties with their colonies as the trade patterns were asymmetric: the colonies exported raw materials and imported manufactured product for the greater economic benefit of the empires. Secondly, certain economic development of the colonies suited them well since they were able to collect more taxes there. Thirdly, the ideological platform behind colonization was to a large extent based on the notion of modernization, which implied the construction of new transportation facilities.

However, after the colonies had become independent, little attention was paid to the maintenance of the existing transportation networks. The situation is quickly improving in the countries that focus their economic effort predominantly on tourism, for instance, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. South Africa, as the best developed country on the continent, boasts modern infrastructure and good transportation facilities. Other countries have to rely on aid from international bodies to develop their transportation networks.


Van de Walle, N. (2001). African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979-1999. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Guimera, R., Mossa, S., Turtschi, A., and L. A. N. Amaral. (2005). ‘The Worldwide Air Transportation Network: Anomalous Centrality, Community Structure,
and Cities’ Global Roles.’ Retrieved October 21, 2006, from

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