Urban transportation has never been up to the demand of the African people due to a lack of accessibility and inadequate investments in the sector. On the second most populous continent, the quality of vehicles is rather low and unsafe and continues to be the great challenge.
Transport systems have a great deal of impact on the life of the people and the economy. Compared to developed countries, some African countries have the poorest urban transport development. Road transport is accompanied with traffic congestion, air pollution, high accident rates, poor vehicle conditions and high maintenance costs. These conditions make transportation costs high.
Existing roads are much older and unsuited for average driving speeds. Road capacity is also another problem unable to accommodate the increasing traffic. However, there are some ongoing projects for the development of transportation across Africa. The poor quality of roads has been a major constraint to economic growth. To support the transportation development initiative, the World Bank recently approved $370 million credit to Ethiopia’s safe and efficient road expansion project. As a result, the road network has tripled from 26,550km to 99,522km improving by 70%. Despite these achievements, the road network has not kept up with the needs of Ethiopia’s fast growing economy.
Like Ethiopia, many cities in the continent are going through the urban development phase in the bid to improve the inadequate state of traffic and road technology services.However, the total number of vehicles is also increasing, Nigeria is the number one car buyer in Africa with an average of 70,000 vehicles purchased annually. As the largest population in Africa, there is approximately one vehicle for every 12 citizens. Nevertheless, the poor maintenance of infrastructures prevents Nigeria from fully tapping into its vehicle buying capacity South Africa has the highest number of cars per capita in Africa. One in every five people in South Africa owns a vehicle. In 2012 alone, more than 250,000 vehicles were sold.
Development and transport facilities are closely linked, industry experts say.Transportation facilities are vital to reinforce economic strategies. Vast as it is, Africa accounts for 15% of the world’s population according to World Population Statistics. So far, Africa has come a long way in creating well aligned and extensively networked roads but this development varies from country to country in coverage and efficiency.
Central Africa had much less progress in road development whereas in Southern Africa, most countries show a large number of paved roads. In West Africa, Niger has the maximum number of paved roads and Ethiopia has shown a steady growth of paved roads in Eastern Africa.
This suggests that a region’s ability to succeed in the contemporary global economy depends largely on the effectiveness and efficiency of its road and transport system. Africa’s marginalized position within the world economic system is largely due to the fact that the continent lacks the quality of transport infrastructure necessary to connect it adequately to the world.
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