An Atlas of African Affairs

By Andrew Boyd; Patrick Van Rensburg | Go to book overview

P. Transport

Africa has about 30,000 miles of railway, of several different gauges. The railways are most developed in the Maghreb (1) and in South Africa, where average density is a mile of railway for every 50-60 square miles; in tropical Africa, it is one for every 340-350 square miles (against 1 for 18 in the U.S.A. and 1 for 8 in France). The best road networks are also in South Africa and along parts of the Mediterranean coast. Road building has been speeded up since the war, and newly independent states like Ghana are giving it special attention, but good hard-topped or even gravel roads are few in the tropical areas; the 'continental routes' are mostly dirt roads, with many stretches impassable in the rainy season.

The chief navigable waterways (apart from the Suez Canal - 6) are: the Congo and its tributaries, about 8,000 miles in all, far the most extensive river navigation system; the Niger and Benue; the Nile; and the Great Lakes of East Africa. Rail links have been built to complete the transport system at points where river navigation is broken by rapids, as on the Congo below Leopoldville (B, 24); but this means costly transhipment (some freight from the interior has to switch from river to rail and back three or four times to reach a seaport).

Passenger transport is largely by rail and waterway, though more and more buses are now operating, especially in West Africa.

The transport deficiency is a serious obstacle to general development, but difficult terrain, tropical conditions, and the need to import skill and many materials make new construction expensive. Most current construction is of roads on routes where neither rail nor river provides a means of transport, but some new railways are also being built (20, 31).

The numerous railways that link the hinterland with seaports reflect the dependence of the modern parts of most regions' economies on overseas trade, and the low level of trade between African areas themselves. The artificial pattern of past colonial rule is stamped on much of the rail system, with its differing gauges, and, in some cases, routes that conform to the borders between the spheres of former ruling powers rather than to economic realities.

Most large cities are now on international air routes, and there are many regular inter-territorial flights, the main gap in these being between West Africa and the north-east. The coming of air transport has had important political effects, making possible conferences of leaders from many parts of Africa who could not otherwise have met

-44-

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An Atlas of African Affairs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Foreword 7
  • A. Population 10
  • B. Regions and Barriers 12
  • C. Languages and Peoples 14
  • D. European and Asian Settlement 20
  • E. 'Pre-European' History 22
  • F. Europeans on the Coast 24
  • G. the European 'scramble' 26
  • H. the New Political Map 28
  • I. British and French Heritages 30
  • J. United Nations Activity 32
  • K. Pan-Africanism and Regional Unity 34
  • L. Africa Overseas 36
  • M. Education 38
  • N. Health and Pests 40
  • O. Minerals 42
  • P. Transport 44
  • Q. Power, Development And Research 46
  • 1. the Maghreb 48
  • 2. Morocco and Mauritania 50
  • 3. Algeria 52
  • 4. Tunisia and Libya 54
  • 5. Egypt and Its Neighbours 57
  • 6. Suez Canal 58
  • 7. Suez-Sinai Conflict, 1956 60
  • 8. the Nile 62
  • 9. Egypt 64
  • 10. the Sudan 66
  • 11. Ethiopia 68
  • 12. the Somalis 70
  • 13. West Africa 72
  • 14. Ex-French Africa 74
  • 15. Ex-French West Africa 76
  • 16. 'Equatorial' Africa 78
  • 17. Commonwealth West Africa 80
  • 18- Senegambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia 82
  • 19. Ghana and Its Neighbours 84
  • 20. Nigeria 86
  • 21. Cameroons 88
  • 22. Two Congos 90
  • 23. Post-Belgian Congo 92
  • 24. Lower Congo 94
  • 25. Between the Lakes 96
  • 26. Ruanda-Urundi 98
  • 27. British East and Central Africa 100
  • 28. Uganda 102
  • 29. Kenya 104
  • 30. Tanganyika and Zanzibar 106
  • 31. the Rhodesias 108
  • 32. Katanga and Copperbelt 110
  • 33. Nyasaland 112
  • 34. Angola and Mozambique 114
  • 35. Malagasy (madagascar) 116
  • 36. South Africa and Its Neighbours 118
  • 37. Protectorates and S.W. Africa 120
  • 38. Eastern South Africa 122
  • Index 125
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