Transport and Development in West Africa

Tim Har­ford, the Under­cov­er Eco­nom­ist, takes a look at the prob­lems with the trans­port­a­tion net­work in west Africa and dis­cusses how this is a major factor in the region’s stun­ted devel­op­ment.

Pity the entre­pren­eur who wants to do busi­ness under such con­di­tions. If goods travel at 75 miles a day […] it is almost impossible to import mater­i­als or export products prof­it­ably from Africa’s back­wa­ters. The eco­nom­ic geo­graph­ers Nuno Limão and Tony Ven­ables have estim­ated that high trans­port costs explain almost all of Africa’s eco­nom­ic isol­a­tion. Cer­tainly, export­ers have not been able to take full advant­age of US and EU trade con­ces­sions.