Social and economic problems faced in African Countries due to Transportation. [Case Scenario is observed in Ghana.]

By Mr. Anthony Quansah posted 01-17-2018 11:22 AM


Services offered by transportation [henceforth called transportation services] are very important in many ways as they provide mobility, shape land use and development patterns, generate jobs and enable a country’s economic growth.  It is important to consider the full range of economic impacts, both positive and negative, that a transport services may cause. 



Transportation services can have various impacts on a community’s economic development objectives, such as productivity, employment, business activity, property values, investment and tax revenues. Public transportation is the common and main backbone of the entire transportation sector which services drive the country’s economy and hence it is the main bone of contention herein.

It is realized that the modus operandi of public transportation in African countries negatively affects the socio-economic development of the population. In Africa, public transport means a mode of transport which is managed by either government or private agency and patronized by the public commuters. Public transport is solely owned by individuals as against the government's which hence abdicates the entire transport management in the auspices of private individuals in the country. User comfort and transport integrity are compromised by this private management system just to maximize profit margins of transport owners and consequently poses delays, accidents and distress to passengers and in a wider scope reduces productivity at workplaces which bring about a national economic recession.

The two main transportation challenges that inhibit every individual ‘s socio-development in the urban areas of african countries are “access” and “mobility”. Due to the niggardly nature of transport planning, the low-income households suffer disproportionately from the negative social effects of bad transport arrangements that restrict access to the labour market, education, health and other essential services. Members of low-income households often have longer commutes to work, pay a higher percentage of income for fares (economic poverty) and are exposed to more risks (fatalities, injuries) than wealthy families. This is a problem of inadequate or no traffic modal analysis performed in the prerequisite stage of road infrastructure development which allows roads to be randomly constructed only in rich communities with fewer regards to the hands-tied households’ communities. 

In conclusion, the standard operating procedure of transport administered in a country like Ghana results to profound socio-economic inequality between low-incomers and high-incomers and this serves as a major barrier to equitable development in the society. Ghana’s economy used to strongly linger on freight transportation mainly between coastal areas and rural areas. Two railway lines constructed to connect the coast to mining areas and urban cities crowned Ghana with the success of world’s largest cocoa producer and this boomed the country’s economy.

But currently, Ghana’s railway’s network is insignificant and appears to be largely neglected because it's partially operational and hence it currently handles less than 2% of the freight and passenger traffic. This has flash country’s economy in the pan as it is limiting the development of the mining sector and the emerging oil and gas industry. Proper operational planning and management are needed in the railway transportation system to generate the country some significant income to boom its economy. In few years ahead, the government is investing 1.2% of GDP into railway infrastructure development which can confidently contribute to this sector, immense and advance operational strategies.

Road transport is by far the most important means of moving freight in Ghana and it is this sector that requires the greatest consideration. According to a world bank report, Ghana’s road transport indicators are strong and by almost all measures, they are well ahead of those found among low-income peers, but some challenges remain. Urban congestion remains a particular problem in the urban centres. Traffic congestion is really a transport planning problem and effective research much hence be focused in this scope to deal with traffic congestion problems.

Expected results after improving transportation in Africa.

In general, improved transport in any African country like Ghana will improve the overall accessibility (i.e., improve businesses ability to provide goods and services, and people's ability to access education, employment and services) and reduce transportation costs (including travel time, vehicle operating costs, road and parking facility costs, accident and pollution damages).

Currently, transportation contributes around 6.8% to the country’s GDP and it is expected to hugely triggers infrastructural development, offer better social life for stakeholders and residents of the country if transport is improved.

In general, this will lead to broader socio-economic growth, as a result of changes in disposable household income, business productivity, and market access.