Integration may bring important benefits to Africa. It will foster higher growth and development (see Intra-African trade and transportation, Agenda 2063 (II): Connecting Africa through high-speed trains, Regional integration in Africa). Needless to say, regional transport infrastructure improvements play a key role in this.
Africa’s infrastructure deficits, that include transportation and energy access, have been estimated to cost the continent up to 2 percentage points of annual economic growth in 2015, according to the African Union Commission. This is a huge drag for the continent’s economic activity: to give some perspective, Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) real GDP grew at 3.35% in 2015. African leaders’ commitment in Agenda 2063 to accelerate action to connect the continent through a better infrastructure aims at overcoming this situation.
A look at the 2016 regional infrastructure index published by the African Union Commission gives us the opportunity to compare how regional integration varies across African administrative regions.
The good news is that the overall situation has improved in the last decade. Still, these improvements are distributed asymmetrically across the different African areas.
- Roads: Overall, the continent’s road network has increased notably: since 2006, the yearly average growth rate has been 2.2%, up from 1.8% in the period 2000 to 2005. In the Western region, has increased by 29% this last decade and it has the second highest road density, 10.9, only lower than the Southern region, 18. Central Africa is the only region with a reduction in the road network from 2006 to 2015 (24% decrease) and it continues to be the region with less road density too (only 4.7 km by 100 square km).
- Railways: there are currently important projects in progress: Djibouti-Ethiopia, Dakar-Bamako, Mombasa-Nairobi in Kenya, which is planned to be extended to Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan by the following years.
- Inland water ways: the navigational line between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea through the River Nile is the most iconic project under construction.
What’s your experience with transportation in SSA?
Nadim Elayan, Research Assistant at IESE Business School, collaborated in this article.