Prospects for economic growth
The 2019 African Economic Outlook from the African Development Bank states that Africa’s economy is improving. In 2018, Africa’s GDP rose to 3.5%, from the 2.1% in 2016. This is expected to rise to 4.0% and 4.1% in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the introduction of the Continental Free Trade Areas; which covers the entire African Union, the reduction of custom duties and the amelioration of border controls, trade in the African continent is expected to increase to 52% in the next five years.
All of these forecasts will end up as mere figures on paper, if Africa does not possess the necessary infrastructure needed to enable the movement of goods across her borders. To remedy this situation, Africa is investing in her road networks, which will link up African cities, making movement of goods and people easier.
HIGHWAYS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION
In order to link Cameroon to Congo, the African Development Bank decided to finance the construction of a highway between the two countries. The first phase of the project involved constructing the Ketta-Djoum stretch, and the second phase, the construction of the Biesse-Minton stretch, a total of 504.5km, worth 424 million dollars.
This project was approved on the 21st of October 2015 and signed on the 17th of December 2015. The road is expected to be completed on the 31st of December 2020. 98% and 80% of the work on the first phase of the project has been completed in Congo and Cameroon respectively and about 20% of the work on the second phase has been done so far.
This road will play a great role in strengthening regional integration and boosting economic and social development in the Economic Community of Central African States as the highway passes through the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Central African Republic.
The Yaounde-Brazzaville highway will be beneficial to the local communities of both countries, as they will have access to basic social amenities, social services and more market facilities.
The construction and rehabilitation of the Yaounde-Brazzaville corridor will revive the production of food and cash crops in the area, thereby reducing poverty and creating jobs for the working population. This highway is the permanent land transport link between the two countries and other countries in the Central African sub-region that will boost trade and economic development.
Also known as the Trans-Sahelian highway, the 4,500km road links Dakar, Senegal, to Ndjamena in Chad. The highway passes through 7 countries; Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.
80% of the road has been paved so far but some parts of the road need rehabilitation. The route needs a connection from Senegal to Mali because the existing route uses existing national routes in the states where it passes.
This highway is of great importance to landlocked African states as it serves as a link to the major seaports along the coastal area. The highway will also link regions with similar cultural ties, thereby fostering regional integration.
The Ndjamena-Djibouti highway is also known as the Trans-African Highway 6. It is the 6th transcontinental road infrastructure under development by the African Development Bank, the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. This highway connects the Sahelian region to the port in Djibouti, which is an important asset for trade, especial import and exports.
The 4,219km route passes through Chad, Sudan and Ethiopia and shares the same route at some point with the Cairo-Cape Town highway.
Unfortunately, this highway’s potentials cannot be fully exploited because of the conflict in Darfur which poses great security concerns, especially at the Chad-Sudan border.
Apart from linking African cities, this highway is vital in boosting commercial activities along the coastal line and this is an advantage for countries in the Sahel region.
The Tripoli-Cape Town Highway
This is Trans-African Highway number 3, still part of the transcontinental road network project of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union and the African Development Bank.
The 10,808km highway is the longest road link that runs through the African continent north to south. The road starts from Libya and passes through Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Namibia, and ends in Cape Town in South Africa.
At completion, this highway will be a booster for economic activities at a multilateral level, which is between the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCA) and the South African Development Community (SADC)
Though the Dakar-Ndjamena highway, Ndjamena-Djibouti highway and the Tripoli-Cape Town highways are already in use, they are in great need of rehabilitation and other need new roads to connect to the main highway.
INTERCITY HIGHWAYS STILL AT THE PLANNING, FEASIBILITY OR STUDY STAGE
The Lagos-Abidjan highway project is the product of an agreement between the African Development Bank and the Economic Commission Of West African States, signed on the 5th of February 2019. The 1,000km highway will link the capital of Cote d’Ivoire and Lagos in Nigeria.
The highway is a six lane motorway, which will connect Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire through Togo, Ghana and Benin. It is worth noting that the presidents of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, had signed an agreement in 2014 to build a highway across the countries.
For a start, the AfDB has to finance the study of the project with 12.6 million Dollars, with a grant of 10.38 million Dollars from the European Union.
If realized, the road linking some of the most powerful economic cities in the West African region will enable cross-border trade, promote regional integration, thereby reducing poverty rate of the population in the sub-region.
This will also help the in achieving ECOWAS’ 2020 vision which is aimed at setting clear directions and goals to raise the standard of living of the people through conscious and inclusive programs that guarantee a brighter future for them.
Poor roads and related infrastructure are at the centre of many problems related to economic activities on the continent. For example freight trucks reach their destinations late because of dilapidating roads which leads to heavy losses in terms of money.
To solve the problem of lack of roads, railway lines are being built to link some cities in Africa. Example of these railway lines are the 4.2 billion dollars first electric train service on the continent linking Ethiopia and Djibouti and the upcoming 13.8 billion dollars East African Rail Master Plan, intended to link Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Ethiopia.
These routes are what Africa needs to foster economic development on the continent and also promote regional integration which will go a long way to restore peace on the continent.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Credit image: google images/inter-African road
Images from PIDA