FREIGHT TRANSPORT: Freight Transport in Africa, a growing sector

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    Air and sea freight

    Transport is an essential enabler of trade and goods circulation. The African freight transport sector, however, faces a number of structural and organizational problems. In recent years, to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, African countries have been stepping up their efforts to meet the challenges in the freight sector. To this end, they aim to develop regional economies integrated into the global market. These projects benefit from the support of many technical and financial partners.


    Urbanization, a factor stimulating the development of Africa's freight transport sector


    Urbanization and transport are generally closely linked in that they are intended to enable people and goods flows. Every year, Africa's urban population grows by 7%. Estimated at 472 million inhabitants in 2017, this urban population is expected to double over the next twenty-five years, to reach one billion inhabitants in 2040. In an environment of steady economic growth and rising middle classes, the Continent’s strong demographic growth calls for the development of equipment, infrastructure and services necessary to meet the needs of the population, in particular in terms of transport. Boosting trade, a domain where Africa is still lagging behind, is thus required. Intra-regional trade is still weak and accounts for only 10% of all African trade. At global level, the Continent accounts for only 1.8% of imports and 3.6% of exports.





    The road, a dominant mode in the transport of goods in Africa

    La Cémac prépare les textes d'application du nouveau code des douanes communautaire - Le Nouveau Gabon.jpg

    Road transport in Africa
    Cemac prepares implementing legislation for the new Community Customs Code


    Maritime and land transport (by road and rail) are the most important channels for intra-community trade and trade in the sub-region with the rest of the world.

    Road transport bears the bulk (90% of intra-regional trade). The road network, still significantly under-developed on the Continent, is also hampered by vehicle overloading which reduces the life of roads. Rail traffic, with the exception of North Africa, is generally low in Africa, transporting only 2% of global goods. Maritime shipping, one of the most important modes of transport for foreign trade, accounts for 92 to 97% of Africa's international trade. With regards to air, the continent had more than 4,000 airports and airfields in 2007, but only 20% had paved runways. Only 117 African airports are classified as international airports and their share in global air transport remains modest, accounting for only 3.6% of cargo in 2006. However, this sector is modestly increasing, going from 1% of global air traffic in 2004 to 1.6% in 2016.


    Initiatives to improve freight transport of merchants have been increasing in Africa in the past two decades


    Since the beginning of the 21st century, African governments have put in place several programs to improve transport on the Continent. They have allocated between 6 and 8% of their GDP to infrastructure development. This represents nearly $ 20 billion, a considerable improvement over the $ 8 to $ 8.5 billion allocated to infrastructure during the 1990s. In this context, regional economic communities such as ECOWAS, UEMOA, COMESA, EAC, CEN-SAD, SADC, AMU, etc. have set up programs to facilitate transport, improve and extend transport infrastructure.

    Map.png They have made efforts to get member countries to develop their transport and communication infrastructure and improve services for sustainable development. These programs target African and international integration with a view to contribute to the 2040 vision of the Continent's transport sector as set out in the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), namely, " to promote the emergence of an integrated continent where infrastructure and transport services enable the free movement of goods and people”.

    These actions are well illustrated with the construction of corridors such as the one connecting Abidjan-Lagos, started in 2016, whose delivery is scheduled for 2025. This corridor will span five West African countries, namely Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, and is one of the PIDA projects led by the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and their technical and financial partners.




    In the same vein, the NEPAD, designed to promote the development of the continent, has made it a priority to accelerate regional integration; its major objective in this respect is therefore to fill the infrastructure gap in Africa.







    The Abidjan-Grand Bassam highway, inaugurated nearly two years ago

    is part of the Abidjan-Lagos corridor, one of the PIDA projects


    Freight transport and logistics in Africa, an organization between informal and innovation


    Despite a sustained increase in road freight, the sector is struggling to organize itself.
    The freight and logistics industry in Africa is dominated by the informal sector. These are often small family-owned companies that usually have two or three over-age trucks - more than 30 years on average.

    African countries, for the most part, face particularly high transport costs, roadblocks and cumbersome administrative and customs procedures, logistical circuits that are still rudimentary. Thus, for access to foreign markets, transport and insurance costs in Africa represent on average 3Zipline-Drone-590x400.png0% of the total value of exports, a higher percentage compared to

    the average of 8.6% for developing countries. This severely hampers transport and trade on the continent and leads to excessive delay and thus substantial increases in transport costs.

    But, the emergence of major logistics players such as Bolloré and Necotrans, AgoraLogistics, Dachser, Gefco, Schenker, STC and Ziegler, SOCOTRA, UMS, optimize the logistics organization of freight transport in Africa. Current innovations are accelerating the change in the face of freight transport on the continent.


    Drone Zipline


    At the urban and intra-urban level, new, innovative solutions are arising to facilitate the transport of goods: e-commerce, web transport and logistics platforms, the advent of drones, etc. According to some experts, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market share should reach 20% by 2021against only 3% today.

    In addition to these innovations, we are witnessing more and more the emergence of informal means of transporting goods such as tricycles, rickshaws and two-wheeled vehicles for urban last mile delivery solutions in many African cities.


    Capture d’écran 2018-03-28 à 11.12.00.png


    Despite heavy trends such as the state of deterioration of infrastructure and the rampant poverty of the majority of the African population, the many innovations in progress and the emergence of an increasingly important middle class are all weak signals of real changes in the freight transport sector by 2040. The trends towards strengthening regional integration and the structural transformation projects of African economies announced in the African Union Agenda 2063 are worthy of note.




       Photo: Coca-Cola Micro Distribution Kenya | Nairobi, Kenya | Tielman Nieuwoudt | Flickr

    During these three months to come, the OMA through these weekly articles will propose to these Internet users emerging trends, evolving by the declension of the sub-themes of "transport of goods in Africa".



















    AUTEUR : Aurélie KOUASSI

    STATUT : Web journaliste

    DATE DE PARUTION : 27-03-2018

    TYPE : Dossier

    N° :    01-2018

    SOURCES : 15 profession-transporteur-routier-modifie-2009.pdf,%20Senegal%20-%20Togo.pdf'Etude%20PIDA.PDF