Multimodal transport—whereby roads, railways, airlines, and shipping operate in harmony—can contribute significantly to growth and productivity if the modalities are well integrated. In Africa, unfortunately, integration is not the rule. AICD found that corrupt customs administration and restrictions on entry into transport markets are blocking the development of multimodal transport. These and other impediments delay freight, raise the costs of moving international freight, and compromise the logistical systems on which global trade depends. Transportation costs increase the prices of African goods by a whopping 75 percent.
Transport infrastructure is a key requirement for economic growth. In Africa today, networks are sparse, conditions poor, transit slow and accident rates high. More investment is necessary but will not of itself be sufficient. Unless it is accompanied by increased allocation of funds for maintenance and by substantial improvements in system management, high transport costs will remain a serious impediment to growth.
Africa’s urban commuters cope with unregulated and informal services that are unsafe, uncomfortable, and unreliable. Their cities must move quickly toward the model of the metropolitan transport authority used in successful cities around the globe.