Investment in railways connect dry ports in Africa / FOCUS

Il Cairo - In 1970, many African countries had been independent for barely 10 years and their economic development agenda, which was still in its infancy, included ambitious plans to develop inland ports. These ports were to serve as intermodal nodal points with the aim of achieving a seamless network of railway lines and roads linked to the region’s seaports

Il Cairo - In 1970, many African countries had been independent for barely 10 years and their economic development agenda, which was still in its infancy, included ambitious plans to develop inland ports. These ports were to serve as intermodal nodal points with the aim of achieving a seamless network of railway lines and roads linked to the region’s seaports. Now, nearly 50 years later, the ambitious inland and seaports development agenda may have been jolted by the challenges of civil war, political instability, epidemic disease, chronic food insecurity, and pervasive poverty.

Yet, Africa still presents itself as a resilient continent that has seen a resurgence in economic growth, unleashing widespread construction of ports and harbours interconnected to modern railway and road systems to handle increasing exports and imports out and into the region. The European Parliament’s 2016 Africa’s Economic Growth report said, “At the turn of the millennium, Africa entered a period of sustained and impressive growth, with some of its countries among the fastest-growing economies in the world. The continent proved resilient in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis due to two factors: a good fiscal situation and low economic interconnectivity with the rest of the world.” One of the effects of Africa’s growth has been an increase in exports and imports fuelled by the demand for the continent’s natural resources such as oil, gas, coal, and minerals, especially by China, Europe, and some Latin America countries. The construction, modernisation, and upgrading of dry and inland ports with associated rail and road networks have facilitated the trucking of general cargo and containers from the main seaports to designated intermodal yards. From there the goods are trucked further to the last point of delivery or if they are destined for exports, loaded onto trains for delivery to the seaport usually in a single trip.

Eastern Africa is a good example of regions in Africa where development of dry or inland ports, and modern railways and roads has not only helped address congestion of key ports such as Mombasa, Dar es Salaam, and Djibouti, but also increased operational efficiency at the seaports.

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