Promoting Transport Infrastructure in Africa
The weakness in Africa’s transport infrastructure today is striking compared to other developing regions, according to Policy Insights No. 21, an OECD publication derived from the African Economic Outlook 2005/2006 (a joint AfDB/OECD publication). Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3 per cent of the rail transport of developing countries, but has 17 per cent of the population and 7 per cent of the GDP. Under a fifth of its road network is paved, compared to over a quarter in Latin America and over two fifth in South Asia.
Many problems plague African roads, railways, airports, ports, and air space, from improper planning and bad management to lack of safety and maintenance and inappropriate regulation. The result is that the poor state of infrastructure, the poor quality of the transport services provided, and their high cost to users all combine to leave many people, and especially the poorest of the poor, in a state of stranded mobility, adds the African Economic Outlook.
Yet, economic activity in Africa is estimated to have risen by nearly 5 per cent in 2005, and is expected to increase to 5.8 per cent and 5.5 per cent in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The outlook for much of Africa continues to be more favourable than it has been for many years. The continued global expansion — with the concomitant sustained demand for oil and other industrial raw materials at higher prices — a significant increase in official development aid to Africa, driven largely by debt relief and emergency assistance, and improving macroeconomic stability have all contributed to this positive economic outlook. In addition, growth has been boosted by increased oil production in Southern and Central Africa and some improvements in the security situation. Inflation has remained at historical lows despite increasing oil prices. Trade balances have improved in many countries, with the largest gains for exporters of oil and metal ores, while some countries were adversely affected by higher import bills and lower prices for some agricultural products, cocoa and cotton in particular.
After a significant decline throughout much of the last decade, aid levels have increased in recent years and Africa is the continent that has benefited the most.
All these issues were addressed by the office of the African Development Bank’s Chief Economist in Bamako on October 27, 2006, during which Beejaye Kokil (Acting Manager, Economic and Social Statistics Division) and Audrey Verdier-Chouchane (Research Economist, Networking and Research Partnerships Division) made a presentation on the African Economic Outlook and financing transport infrastructure in Africa.