Inadequate transport infrastructure and services could hamper the realization of AfCFTA’s benefits. There is an urgent need to improve transport connectivity providing a treasure trove of investment opportunities in Africa’s transport sector. Harnessing these opportunities would lead to job creation, particularly for youth, and to gender empowerment on the continent. The investments also provide an avenue for a green economic recovery in Africa, with the view to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa highlighted those needs in its report “The African Continental Free Trade Area and Demand for Transport Infrastructure and Services”.
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- Africa’s infrastructure financing gap is about USD 130 billion annually but the annual average infrastructure investments total USD 55 billion.
- Road, rail, air and maritime infrastructure is inadequate. Most of intra-African trade is transported by road. Roads currently carry about 77% of freight in Africa (0,9% air, 0,3% rail, maritime 22,1%) and the AfCFTA provides an opportunity to move freight to other models such as rail and maritime.
- According to UNECA, implementing AfCFTA will double road freight from 201 million tonnes in 2020 to 403 million tonnes in 2045, intra-Africa air freight transport is expected to increase from 2,3 to 4,5 million tonnes, intra-African maritime freight transport will increase by 0,6% to 22,7%. Intra-Africa rail freight is expected to increase from 0.3% to 6,8% with the implementation of AfCFTA.
- Studies show that costs of logistics in rural areas in Africa are approximately 1% of a smallholder farmer’s baseline income for every 10 km traveled and lack of access to warehouses at all brings a discount of almost 15% off market prices as well as lead to an estimated 20-30% post-harvest loss.
Overall, African road network was made up of more than 810,000 road links and a total of 445,018 kilometres. The average travel speed for commercial vehicles is at an average of 30 kilometers per hour for urban roads, 70 for motorways and 65 for all the other Road transport.
Road transport accounted for almost 77 % of the total intra-African freight transport demand. The number of tonnes transported by trucks would double with the implementation of the AfCFTA, from 201 million tonnes to 403 million tonnes.
The total length of the critical road links to implement the AfCFTA, is 61,540 kilometres.
A high density of critical links was found in Central and West Africa (Cameroon, Central African Republic and Nigeria) and in East Africa (Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia). Several links belong to the Trans-African Highway network, such as the Cairo–Dakar highway, the Tripoli–Windhoek–Cape Town highway and the Cairo–Cape Town highway. Six of the 10 critical corridors are in Algeria, Cameroon and Nigeria.
The largest truck demands to support trade flows are within West Africa, with 39.3 %, from West Africa to Southern Africa, with 19.8 %, and from Southern Africa to West Africa, with 9.9 %.
African road transport network in the infrastructure do-nothing scenarios
African road transport network in the-AfCFTA infrastructure do-everything scenario
Forty freight railway stations for intermodal transport were identified and located. A total of 80,607 kilometers of rail links make up the rail network in the infrastructure.
Rail transport accounted for just 0.3 per cent of intra-African freight transport demand (see Table 5.11).The number of tonnes transported by rail wagons with the implementation of the AfCFTA would increase almost 52 times, from 760,000 tonnes to 39 million tonnes, with the share of total demand transported by rail up to 6.8 per cent.
If the AfCFTA is implemented and the planned infrastructure projects are carried out by 2030, some 26,500 kilometers of rail links should be added resulting in a total of some 106,930 kilometers of rail links in Africa.
The rail wagon fleet should increase by 132,857 units for bulk cargo and 36,482 units for container cargo, compared with the fleet in 2019.
The largest rolling stock demands to support trade flows are within West Africa, with 48.4 per cent, within Southern Africa, with 19.6 per cent, and within North Africa, with 11.5 per cent.
Top 10 critical railway links with the AfCFTA implementation
African rail transport network in the infrastructure do-nothing scenarios withtout AfCFTA
African rail transport network in the infrastructure do-everything scenarios
Africa has 122 international airports of a total 925 airports in the continent. The air network includes a total of 14,762 air routes. The largest aircraft demand to support trade flows is within West Africa, with 13.2 per cent. The other pairs of regions that would require the largest number of aircraft are from North Africa to West Africa, with 12.9 per cent, and within Southern Africa, with 12.2 per cent.
Aircraft fleet needs by African regions, with-AfCFTA, infrastructure do-everything scenario.
Aircraft fleet needs by African regions, with-AfCFTA, infrastructure do-everything scenario everything scenarios
Critical airports in the with-AfCFTA, infrastructure do-everything scenario (s2)
The maritime network includes 142 links connecting 65 ports excludes ports that are too small and those located next to larger ports. Travel speed for ships is assumed to be 50 kilometers per hour. Maritime transport accounted for 22.1% of intra-African freight transport demand. According to the transport demand forecasting results, the number of tonnes transported by vessels with the implementation of the AfCFTA would more than double, from almost 58 million to 131.5 million. The total maritime transport share is expected to increase by 0.6%, from 22.1% to 22.7% in the with-AfCFTA.
Top 10 critical maritime ports in the with-AfCFTA, infrastructure do-everything scenario (S2)
Critical maritime ports in the with-AfCFTA, infrastructure do-everything scenario (s2)