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A Trans-Africa Inland Waterway System?

Posted on March 7, 2016

By Harry Valentine, The Maritime Executive

There may be scope for future African leaders to borrow the European precedent of connecting navigable rivers to develop an inland, canal-based transportation network.

Inland waterway systems have also been successful outside Europe. In the U.S., inland waterway freight transportation can move bulk and container shipments of over 100 TEUs at lower cost per unit distance than either truck or railway transportation.

Such a system would benefit the African continent, which remains largely dependent on fragmented land transport systems. While Cecil John Rhodes sought to build a North – South, Cape-to-Cairo railway line, African railway networks remain regional with their own distinctive railway gauge. Paved road networks are to be found in major cities and in certain regions, but only a network of unpaved roads is available for most of the continent’s long distance connections for the truck transport industry. Trucks carry most of Africa’s long-distance freight.


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