This short article examines the present land transport situation in tropical Africa, and discusses the severe economic constraints facing continuation of even the present low levels of vehicular activity. In addition, some new approaches to both passengers and freight are suggested in line with existing difficulties.
As defined here, tropical Africa includes all the countries in the continent except Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, as well as South Africa and Namibia. In 1984, the population was just over 400 million, but is expected to reach about 650 million by the year 2000.1 Overall, the region is characterised by low levels of income per head, a high proportion of the workforce employed in agriculture (over 50 per cent everywhere), and correspondingly low levels of urbanisation. Given the great differences between the region and the industralised countries, it is possinle that transport policies appropriate to the West may not be particularly relevent.