Africa is on the move ” It is a statement often taken by face value. However, this statement is true in many ways, including the fact that Africa has developed rapidly over the last fifty years, faster than the rate at which Europe has industrialized. The continent has an elaborate transport network in the growing regionalism that is slowly taking over. One of these projects is the Trans-African Highway.
What is the trans-African highway network?
The Trans-African Highway (TAH) which is a road network that connects the main African cities. The African Union, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) are the main project donors of the 35.221 mile road network. This network also has other names such as Trans-African Corridors or Road Corridors. The idea behind the TAH network is the development and better distribution of trade, health and education by linking previously inaccessible areas.
Main motorways in the TAH network
The network consists of nine highways, of which there are six east-west and three north-south routes.
TAH 1: This road runs from Cairo to Dakar along the Mediterranean coast and then continues along the Atlantic coast of northwest Africa. TAH 1 is 5.366 miles and joins TAH 7 to form a further north-south route. Among the cities that TAH 1 serves include Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers and Rabat.
TAH 5 : TAH 5 goes from Dakar to Ndjamena covering 2,794 miles. Also known as the Trans-Sahelian Highway, TAH 5 connects West Africa to the Sahel. Only 80% of this road is complete.
TAH 6 : Covering miles 2,622, TAH 6 connects Ndjamena to Djibouti and continues through the Sahel region to the Indian Ocean.
TAH 7 : TAH 7 (Trans-West African Coastal Road) covers 2,490 miles from Dakar, Senegal to Lagos, Nigeria and is 80% complete. TAH 7 joins TAH 1 to form a further south-north road in the most western part of Africa.
TAH 8 : Adjacent to TAH 7 in Lagos, TAH 8 runs from Lagos to Mombasa covering a total of 3,889 miles. Together with TAH 7, they form the east-west highway of the 6381 miles. TAH 8 is complete in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic (CAR). However, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo there are no links that prevent its full use.
TAH 9 : TAH 9 is fundamentally complete although some parts of it in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola need repairs. This road goes from Beira to Lobito and is 2.199 long.
TAH 2 : TAH 2 (Trans-Saharan Highway) is 2,799 miles between Algiers and Lagos. This road is basically complete with less than 120 miles requiring paving. However, due to the state of security in the desert, the authorities limit the use of the road.
TAH 3 : The route connects Tripoli, Libya with Cape Town, South Africa through Cameroon, Angola and Namibia. This route has the most missing links.
TAH 4 : TAH 4 is 6.355 miles long from Cairo Pretoria through Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. The road is largely complete, but parts of northern Kenya and the border between Sudan and Egypt are unsafe.
The TAH serves most African countries, with the exception of Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia, Swaziland, South Sudan, Rwanda, Malawi, Lesotho and Equatorial Guinea, although Swaziland, Rwanda, the Lesotho and Malawi have their own highways that connect to different sections of TAH. Although more than half of TAH is complete, the lack of maintenance in some areas continues to derail the project due to lack of political will. The bad state of the roads in some parts of the TAH is the result of bad weather, human activities and wars. Because of these missing connections, fluid journeys are only possible in the sections of eastern and southern Africa of the TAH. The Central African region is the most affected.