African Union to push for transcontinental highway links

The African Union has nominated the building of major transport corridors between Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa to boost the continent’s economies.

The vision has been taken up by Raila Odinga, the former prime minister of Kenya, who was appointed the African Union’s special envoy for infrastructure development on 20 October.

Odinga said priority should be given to highways stretching thousands of kilometres between Cairo and Dakar (Senegal), Cairo and Cape Town (South Africa), and Mombasa (Kenya) and Lagos (Nigeria) reports Construction Review Online.

Odinga, who is the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kenya’s first vice president, has five offices in African regions. He said he accepted the post because he believed that the roads were essential if Africa was to achieve "economic independence".

The Trans-African Highway network. Only route five, between Dakar and Ndjamena in Chad, has been built (Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0)

He said: "My belief is that having reliable road infrastructure and railways linking all corners of Africa will open up the continent and make it a gateway to the 21st century. Through my new position I am determined to take Africa to economic independence."

The African Union was founded in 2001 as a replacement for the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). It brings together the heads of state of all 55 countries in Africa in two meetings a year.

The union has taken over the Trans-Africa network from the OAU, and is planning it in conjunction with the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank. The aim is to base the highways on existing roads and raise investment to build links between them.

Top image: Roads are needed to "open up Africa" (Dreamstime)

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