The majority of urban and rural roads in Africa are degraded. The result, a bottleneck to improved mobility and thus socio-economic development for millions of people without appropriate transport to traverse this terrain.
According to a recent Gallup poll conducted in 35 African countries, just 37% of citizens are satisfied with their roads and highways. A safe, efficient, and reliable transportation system is an essential connector between regional markets to stimulate economic growth and create wealth in Africa. Despite the importance of good road networks, government investment in road infrastructure is varied.
Many roads in remote rural areas are simply tracks carved out over years of use. These tracks are highly susceptible to ongoing erosion, further degrading the overall quality of roads in Africa. As well as bumpy uneven ground, rural roads are often littered with rocks, pot holes, mud and the washboarding effect (narrow ridges formed across the road as sections of ground become increasingly compacted through continued use) which seriously restricts mobility for those without appropriate means of transport.
Without an available, safe, practical and affordable form of transport for these roads, many people are forced to walk long distances in order to access basic services such as education, healthcare, employment, markets and long-haul transport links.
The road density (proportion of road area coverage) in Africa is about 7% (Gallup), far less than that of Asia or Latin America, where road density is above 12 kilometers per 100 square kilometers. Only 30% of Africa's roads are paved and much of the road infrastructure is chronically underdeveloped. In Kenya, for example while the main Nairobi-Mombasa highway is fully paved and relatively well maintained, the majority of urban roads are riddled with cracks, pot holes and bumps.
Although the need for improved roads is less immediate in urban areas than rural, poor infrastructure increases the number of vehicle breakdowns, increases the number of vehicle accidents and undermines mobility more broadly.