African Infrastructure Services Prices are Exceptionally High (2-3)
The adequate supply of infrastructure services has long been viewed as essential for economic development and poverty reduction, both in the policy and academic realms. Over the last two decades, considerable efforts have been devoted to theoretical and empirical evaluation of the contribution of infrastructure to growth and economic development. More recently, increasing attention has also been shifting to the impact of infrastructure on poverty and inequality. While the extant literature on these two topics is far from unanimous, on the whole, a consensus has emerged that, under the right conditions, infrastructure development can play a major role in promoting growth and equity – and, through both channels, help to reduce poverty.
Transport infrastructure and services are critical to Africa’s sustainable development.
Effective mobility and timely access to goods and services require well-developed, safe, secure and affordable transport network and services. However, Africa’s transport system is still relatively underdeveloped. While most sub-Saharan African countries have the basic building blocks of a transport infrastructure, it is far from efficient.
Road transport is the dominant mode of motorized transportation in Africa, accounting for 80 per cent of the goods traffic and 90 per cent passenger traffic on the continent.
In 2005, only 580,066 km or 22.7 per cent of the total African road network was paved (UNECA, 2009) Most African countries are faced with huge costs associated with transportation.
In accessing foreign markets, on average Africa’s transport and insurance costs represent 30 per cent of the total value of exports, which compares unfavourably with 8.6 per cent for all developing countries. Although most share the problem of high transport costs, landlocked countries face the most excessive transport costs recorded on the continent.
It has been estimated that deaths on African roads Road amounts to 225,000, per annum or 19 per cent of the global total of 1.2 million people. Furthermore, Africa has the highest number of road traffic accidents per capita (UNECA, 2009).
The dysfunctional state of urban transportation all over Africa is a major challenge. A recent study by the Africa
Infrastructure Country Diagnostic (AICD), Background Paper 1
In all the cities, in addition to being substandard, the road network is only about one third of that in other developing cities.
Capacity is limited; service lanes are absent, including deteriorating pavement, and minimal street lighting. Bad road conditions reduce vehicle speeds, sapping the bus fleet productivity and increasing the cost of maintenance. They also promote the use of minibuses, taxis, and motorcycles that have greater ability to manoeuvre traffic than large buses, but are not as efficient as a means of mass urban transit and are prone to accidents.
Weak, fragmented, and under-funded authorities have been unable to maintain existing services or to plan for expansion.
Buses, which are in most cases second hand routinely fall apart after running overloaded for years on rutted roads; replacements are soon left idle for lack of parts. Fares are often too low and subsidies too irregular to permit sustainable operations. Commuters walk or resort to largely unregulated and informal services that are dirty, unsafe, uncomfortable, and unreliable.
Not surprisingly, the use of motorcycles for commercial transport has grown very rapidly in recent years, as a consequence of the poor state of the roads and the inability of bus companies to meet growing demand in some of the cities, especially Douala, Lagos, and Kampala. Motorcycle drivers are often young and inexperienced and accidents are common—and often fatal.
In 2005, Africa had a total railway network of 90,320 km or 3.1 km for every 1,000 km², most of which is disjointed. With the exception of North Africa, railways in Africa generally have a low level traffic. The railways serve only one per cent of the global railway passenger traffic and carry two per cent of goods. A promising development is the recent launch of Gautrain by South Africa.
This may inspire other countries to embark on a similar endeavour.
Box 2: Gautrain: Africa's First High-Speed Rail Project Takes off
Gautrain, the ZAR25 billion (USD3.2- million) state-of-the-art rapid rail project, was launched on 5 July 2010, thus becoming Africa's first high-speed rail project. The service between the Sandton Station and O.R Tambo International Airport started running on 8 July 2010, three days before the opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It takes approximately 15 minutes and costs ZAR100 (USD13 or EUR10). The train attains speeds of up to 160km an hour, and runs from 5a.m. until around 10 p.m.
In the original contract signed on September 28, 2006, the project was broken into two phases to be constructed concurrently:
The first phase includes the network between OR Tambo International Airport and Sandton, encompassing the stations at OR Tambo, Rhodesfield, Marlboro and Sandton, together with the depot and operations control centre near Allandale Road in Midrand.
The second phase, being constructed concurrently, will be completed in 2011. It includes the remainder of the rail network and stations linking Sandton to Park Station in Johannesburg and the route from Midrand to Hatfield.
The Bombela Concession Company was tasked with completing the first phase in June 2010 and the second phase by mid-2011. When completed, the 80-kilometre regional express train will connect the capital Tshane (Pretoria) with the national economic hub Johannesburg and the Johannesburg International Airport.
Maritime transport is the most dominant mode of transport for moving freight from and to Africa. It accounts for over 92 per cent of Africa’s external trade. With a total coastline of 30,725 km, Africa has 90 major ports and a number of other ports providing services for fishing and tourism. However, African ports handle only 6.0 per cent of global traffic, of which about six ports – three each in Egypt and South Africa – handle about 50 per cent of Africa’s container traffic.
By Alula Berhe Kidani, 20/04/2012