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Transport

After the long walk to freedom, an affordable bus ride to work

Sandeep Mahajan's picture

Almost two decades after Nelson Mandela's globally-inspiring long walk to freedom, millions of his compatriots find it prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to simply get to work. Millions more have no work, and the geographical separation of the poor from centers of economic activity has a lot to do with it.

Take the case of Lydia (pictured here), who is a soft-spoken, gentle mother of two boys -- a one-year old baby and a fifteen-year old teenager. Each in his own way needs his single mother's attention and time. Time that she has very little of, because she has to spend close to five hours commuting to and from her place of work, the World Bank office, where she is one of the housekeeping and cleaning ladies.

Africa on the brink of a take off

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Dear friends,

Today we are trying something new.

I wanted to share with you the reasons why I think we can be optimistic about Africa's development prospects, but rather than writing something up, I thought of using video.

Please, share your feedback, not only on whether you agree that Africa is on the right track, but on the video itself. If you like it, I would like to do more of this short video "Development Talks" with the readers of this blog.

Let me know what you think.

 

Growth, innovation, and transport

Many people recognize that access to adequate transport services is vital for development.  Since 1987, the Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP)—a partnership driven by 36 countries—has been working with governments and regional organizations to enhance the policy and regulation environment for transport, both to facilitate growth and to lift people out of poverty.  One of the

Will the South African economy get a kick from the World Cup?

Sandeep Mahajan's picture

As the month-long FIFA 2010 World Cup tournament kicks-off on June 11, all eyes will be on South Africa. Quite literally, since the 2006 tournament in Germany had a global viewership of around 30 billion.
 
The event is an opportunity for South Africa to showcase itself not just as an attractive destination for tourism and investment but also as the Rainbow Nation, home to people of every race, color, and creed.
 
The economic dividends will be plenty. As President Zuma explained: “the country’s transport, energy, telecommunications, and social infrastructure are being upgraded and expanded. This is contributing to economic development in the midst of a global recession, while improving conditions for investment.” 
 

Some economists are skeptical, seeing white elephants in large stadium constructions and citing analyses that show little net economic benefit to the hosts of previous such events.

Varieties of African successes

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Tolstoy notwithstanding, the 20 African success stories described in the booklet “Yes, Africa Can” show that success comes in many different forms.  Broadly speaking, the cases fall into three categories:

- Success from removing an existing, major distortion.  The best example is Ghana’s cocoa sector, which was destroyed by the hyperinflation and overvalued exchange rate in the early 1980s.  When the exchange rate regime was liberalized and the economy stabilized, cocoa exports boomed (and continue to grow).  Similar examples include Rwanda’s coffee sector and Kenya’s fertilizer use.  Africa’s mobile phone revolution, too, is an example of the government’s stepping out of the way—in this case by deregulating the telecommunications sector—and letting the private sector jump in. 

Can better roads reduce poverty?

Gael Raballand's picture

This  question  was on my mind when, in the Meme region of Cameroon, I saw motorcycle passengers come to a full stop, dismount, carry the bags of vegetables they were transporting on their backs, and start pushing the vehicle to the side, over a field--to circumvent the huge pool of water interrupting the rural road in front of us. Soon, they were on their way again.
Meme is a remote region with almost four meters of rain per year.  The state of its roads reflects the very limited investment they have seen in the last decade.

The motorcycle story from Meme shows that, even in extreme climatic conditions, the connectivity of roads is maintained.  A road may be impassable for cars, but motorcycles find their way around.  Therefore, most rural populations are somehow connected to markets, whereas connectivity is usually thought of as either 0 or 1.

This means that investments in roads could have a lower-than-expected impact on economic development since most households are already somehow connected.

How to boost Africa’s exports

Caroline Freund's picture

Consider the following description of a trucker’s journey in Cameroon:  “The plan was to carry 1,600 crates of Guinness and other drinks from the factory in Douala where they were brewed to Bertoua.  According to a rather optimistic schedule, it should have taken 20 hours, including an overnight rest. It took four days. When the truck arrived, it was carrying only two-thirds of its original load.”

And this is how a Tanzanian exporter explains why few firms stay in the exporting business: “They discover that it is a miserable experience. Having gone to the effort of getting an export order they then spend weeks pounding through bureaucracy, endlessly waiting in dirty government corridors trying to find a morose civil servant prepared to do his job.”

How do these costs affect Africa’s trade?

L’UEMOA à Quinze Ans

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Mon ami, l’économiste togolais Kako Nubukpo, avec qui j’ai eu l’occasion de débattre lors d’un de mes voyages à Lomé, a fait part de son analyse sur le bilan des quinze années d’existence de l’Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine (UEMOA) lors d’un entretien pour le site Ouestaf.com.

D’après lui, même si l’Union est parvenue à gérer l’équilibre macroéconomique et budgétaire entre les États membres, la combinaison d’une monnaie forte (du fait de la parité fixe entre le franc CFA et l’euro) avec ce qu’il appelle « la gouvernance macroéconomique » restreint la compétitivité et donc la diversification et la croissance économique des pays membres.

Ces commentaires émanant d’un économiste qui est actuellement consultant auprès de l’UEMOA relanceront peut-être le débat sur les performances et les options économiques des pays d’Afrique francophone.

Your Comments on Africa's Successes

Shanta Devarajan's picture

The African Successes post has generated a vigorous exchange of ideas.  I appreciate receiving your comments on the study, your suggestions for success stories, and your views on development approaches that have worked and those that have not.  

Les Réussites Africaines

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Ces dernières années, de nombreux pays africains ont commencé à faire preuve d’un dynamisme remarquable.

Le taux de croissance  enregistré au Mozambique est fulgurant, affichant une moyenne annuelle de 8 % sur plus de dix ans. Le Kenya est devenu l'un des plus importants fournisseurs mondiaux de fleurs coupées. Le service M-Pesa, qui permet d’effectuer des transferts d’argent à partir d’un téléphone mobile, rencontre un succès grandissant tandis que le programme KickStart aide les petits agriculteurs à irriguer leurs cultures à moindre coût. Le tourisme rwandais fleurit depuis qu’il s’est axé sur la vie des gorilles et dans la ville de Lagos au Nigéria, les nouvelles infrastructures du BRT (réseau de transport rapide par bus) facilite un développement urbain plus efficace. En deux mots, l’Afrique est en train de vivre une réelle transformation.

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