Africa’s Growing Infrastructure: Out on the Open Road

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Growth in the infrastructure, in the road networks in Africa means a larger market for cars. Could this be why most of the foreign donor aid received from is directed to developing the infrastructure? Africa needs many cars, trucks, vans and buses to keep mobile. Transport, as we know, is the life and blood of the economies of the world.

The twilight years of the 20th century saw the economy of Africa grow enormously. Today, there are more resources in the continent and with the era of the dictators coming to a close end; she is investing her time in the exploitation of the resources. Recent discoveries of billions of barrels of oil in Northern Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere attest to this. However, even with all reasons for Africa to smile, she isn’t out of the woods yet, but she will be, eventually.

The auto industry in Africa has fuelled this growth! It takes a road to drive a car, much as it takes the driver. Therefore, what promises can the African roads expect from the future? Look around you everywhere and you can see the slumbering giant is waking up, and there is a frenzy of road construction activities everywhere you turn around.

African roads

In 20 years time, all of Africa will be connected via paved roads. Let me demonstrate how this is going to happen. Today, it is cheaper and fast to travel via road from Kenya to Tanzania. The Pearl of Africa (Uganda) clears her imports through the Port of Mombasa and then most of the cargo is transported via road to Uganda. That means that three countries are now very well connected. In addition, Uganda is further connected to Rwanda and Burundi, and the connections are growing! Ok, let us now consider what this kind of connection this means for a carmaker, in marketing terms.

In 2012, Kenya had a record 43 million people, Uganda had 36 million and Tanzania had 47 million. Rwanda had 11 million people and Burundi had 9 million people. If you add up all these figures, you will get a ripe 146 million people. Do you know what this means? More hungry mouths to feed? You are right and wrong at the same time. It means a market for manufactured products, a ready market for cars.

Japan is the number one supplier of used and new cars to Africa, selling hundreds of thousands of units every year. Our bet is that it will stay at the top for a long time. Quality, affordability and fuel efficiency are the three things on the mind of an African buyer. Japanese brands like Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Isuzu, Hino and Mitsubishi have so far have been able to offer these and so far, they remain unbeaten, at the top of the list of used and new car suppliers to Africa.

Paved roads in Africa

The kilometers keep growing. Thanks to all parties that have brought the dream of the Trans-African Highway network to reality, Africa may be connected sooner than anyone expected. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Development Bank (ADB) and the African Union (AU) are sponsoring road networks across Africa to help alleviate poverty through trade. A good example of this great ideal is the Mombasa-Nairobi-Kampala road.  Many others have been constructed elsewhere.

So far, South Africa leads in the African countries with the longest paved roads, followed by Nigeria, Libya and many others. The ball is rolling and it will not stop until all kilometers of road can be paved.

African Road Infrastructure