Click On Download to read the above ten page proposal prepared by Rowland Ataguba, July 2020
August 21, 2023
The African Union’s “Agenda 2063” includes plans for the African Integrated High Speed Rail Network (AIHSRN), a high speed rail line across Africa. However, their plan for completion is 40 years from now. Rowland Ataguba, a Nigerian expert in rail management, has proposed a different timetable, which includes two “Master Plans.” He proposes the completion of 35,828 kilometers (kms) of high-speed rail lines by 2033, and an additional 14,547 kms by 2043. (See above)
Why is Mr. Ataguba’s fast track schedule for this transformative rail project important for the African continent?
Why is Rail Infrastructure Crucial?
As a physical economist I understand, as all policy experts and leaders should, the critical importance of hard infrastructure. Along with energy, rail transportation is essential for the growth of every economy. If properly implemented, this physical input into the economy will be transformative. African nations are suffering, and Africans are dying everyday due to the abysmal level of energy throughput in their economies. The paucity of kilometers of railroad track per square area of territory measured, is equally appalling. I can state with authority, that without a full scale, military type mobilization, to rapidly expand these two vital categories of infrastructure, African nations will not achieve industrialization. Without this infrastructure, unacceptable levels of extreme poverty, hardship, and unnecessary deaths will continue on the African continent, especially in sub-Sahara Africa.
Infrastructure, particularly high speed rail, increases the profitability of the entire economy. It advances the productive powers of society, yielding higher rates of production of physical wealth. In other words, all aspects of labor activity and farming involved in the production of tangible products will be upgraded as a result of the introduction of high speed rail. The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement will not succeed, and inter-African trade will remain absurdly low, unless all major African cities, ports, farming agricultural hubs and industrial centers, are connected by AIHSRN.
Rail transportation, like electricity and other forms of hard infrastructure, adds physical value to the economy. (Soft infrastructure contributes to economic growth differently). Thus, even if in the initial stages, railroads don’t yield a profit for that particular business venture, they will have a positive impact on the economy. Connecting production and agricultural markets with consumers through time saving more efficient means of transportation will lead to expansion of economic growth. Otherwise known as progress, which Africa, despite its abundant potential, has been denied.
Take note: China has lifted over 700 million of its people out of poverty on the back of the most expansive high speed rail network in the world,-over 40,000 kms. A similar feat can be accomplished in the African continent, which now has the largest number of people living in poverty.
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Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly beleives that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.