An efficient transport infrastructure plays an indispensable role in facilitating trade and development. Road infrastructure is the dominant mode of transport in Africa, accounting for 80% of goods traffic and 90% passenger traffic. Infrastructure quality, cost and reliability is directly associated with levels of income. In general, the poorer a country’s infrastructure; the poorer are its citizens.

Compared with world standards, Africa’s existing transport facilities are poor and badly integrated. With globalization, it will become increasingly difficult for Africa to remain competitive if its infrastructure systems continue to be sub-standard.

Road development should be sustainable. Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.  Sustainable highway development must take into consideration the social, cultural, economic and environmental needs of the future generations.

Status of road network distribution in Africa

Road density and distribution and the percentage of the road network which is surfaced are key indicators of development. Using these indicators, it can be demonstrated that the status of transport development in Africa varies within and among the continent’s sub regions. The conditions of most African roads remain deplorable, as most parts of the network remain unpaved.

As shown in figure 1, only 580,066 km or 22.7% is paved; the remaining portion being made of either earth or gravel (ECA, 2010). (Note: The network density is in km per 100 sq. km. The distribution is in km per 10,000 inhabitants.

Note: The road network density is in km per 100 sq. km. The distribution is in km per 10,000 inhabitants.

Source: Calculations by ECA, 2010).

The proportions of paved roads show large disparities between sub regions. Northern Africa contains highest share of paved roads (49%), followed by Southern Africa (27%).  The lowest share (1%) of paved roads is in Central Africa.

In contrast, when sub regions are compared according to their respective road densities, Southern Africa has the highest road density on the continent, followed by West Africa.

Importance of quality roads for counties and the country

According to a World Bank Report (2000), the quality of infrastructure affects trade in two ways. First, when the infrastructure is of poor quality, there is increase in total transport costs as it increases direct transport costs and the time of delivery.  Public infrastructure, including transport infrastructure has been proved to affect trade through its effect on a country’s comparative advantage.

To unlock potential for trade and economic development we must: Improve competitiveness by addressing infrastructure shortcomings and prioritize infrastructure to realize greater returns and scale of economies (essential competitiveness) (Thomas, 2008).

Steps being undertaken by KeNHA to ensure sustainable highway development
1.Customer requirement: Determine the customer requirements and translate them into road designs.

2.Highways design life: Designing and construction of highways with a minimum of 15 years lifespan and 50 years lifespan for bridges.

3.Construction of quality highways: Continued strengthening of systems to ensure proper management of the construction projects.

4. Road maintenance: establishment of systems to ensure smooth transition from construction to maintenance of the newly constructed sections of Highways.

5. Environmental safeguard: Integration and strengthening of  environmental management within the road project management cycle.

6.Socio-economic safeguard: Strengthening of TB and HIV/AIDs management within the road projects as well as strengthening systems to ensure adherence to the Constitution, regulations and policies in regard to the resettlement of project-affected persons.

7.    Sustainable funding for the highway projects:  Pursuing alternative funding to the roads sector including Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and Annuity Projects to ensure sustainability.

Funding for road projects in Kenya   
Sources of funding for the Kenyan road sub-sector include the Exchequer, RMLF, transit tolls, agricultural Cess and our development partners (World Bank, European Union, CHINA, Japanese International Corporation Agency, Africa Development Bank, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau- KfW).

That notwithstanding, road development and management in Kenya is traditionally under-financed. Serious financial shortfalls exist on the Kenyan government’s exchequer budget vis a vis requirements of the ongoing contracts to the tune of about KES 16 billion.
The fuel levy collections

have been increasing at about 5% which is below the inflation rate hence purchasing power of the allocation is reducing over time. RSIP (2011) estimates the current maintenance and development needs to be about KES40 billion and KES111 billion, respectively, in the short term.

It is apparent that the road sub sector requires a level of funding that is beyond the government’s ability to finance on its own or with the assistance of development partners.  The RSIP (2011), therefore, recommends the need to identify additional sources of financing such as Public Private Partnerships.

Case study: east African region
In 1998, East African Community (EAC) together with development partners, agreed on a regional road network that needed to be developed to the highest standards in order to promote regional integration. The project objective is to improve the efficiency of the regional road corridors by rehabilitating failed sections and upgrading gravel roads to bitumen standards. 

The road network consists of the following transit corridors:
Corridor No. 1: Mombasa – Malaba – Katuna (linking Kenya with Uganda and Rwanda);
Corridor No. 2: Dar es Salaam – Mutukula – Masaka (linking Tanzania with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi);
Corridor No. 3: Biharamulo – Lockichogio (linking Tanzania with Kenya, Sudan and Uganda);
Corridor No. 4: Tunduma – Nyakanazi (linking Tanzania to Burundi and Rwanda);
Corridor No. 5: Tunduma – Namanga – Moyale (linking Tanzania with Kenya and Ethiopia and part of the great North Road.

Transnational road projects

The EAC Secretariat, apart from coordinating the implementation of the road network projects by member countries, also implements its own projects through grant financing.

The flagship road project is the transnational Arusha – Namanga – Athi River Road (235 km) linking Nairobi (Kenya) to Arusha (Tanzania). This project was financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation. Following the successful completion of this project, the AfDB has agreed to fund two more pipeline projects: Arusha- Holili-Voi (240 KMs) linking Northern Tanzania to Mombasa and Malindi-Lunga Lunga-Bagamoyo (400Km) road running along the East African Coast between Kenya and Tanzania.

Northern Corridor Transport Improvement Project
The Northern Corridor was created to link the landlocked countries of Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda to the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa. The corridor also serves Northern Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia.

The project objectives are to: Increase the efficiency of transport along the corridor to facilitate trade and regional integration, promote private sector participation in the management, financing and maintenance of road assets, and restore vital performance and public assets damaged due to post election crisis.

The LAPSSET Corridor
The Kenya government is undertaking the development of the proposed Lamu Port- Southern Sudan- Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET). It is one of the priority flagship projects identified in the government’s long term development policy, Vision 2030. The project consists of three major transport infrastructure components, i.e. railway, highway and pipeline, which will run parallel to one another.

Status of some projects in Kenya
The Kenya Vision 2030 dictates that no part of Kenya should be remote by the year 2030, thus all counties need to be interconnected and connected to the capital city, Nairobi. Currently part of Northern Kenya is considered remote. To ensure provision of safe and adequate roads to all Kenyans the following projects are being undertaken:

Programme 1: Merile- Moyale (A2)
Merille – Marsabit     Marsabit – Turbi     Turbi – Moyale
Length: 120 km     Length: 121 km     Length: 123 km
Cost: KES 13.7b      Cost:  KES 13b      Cost: KES 12.0b
% complete: 5     % complete: 47     % complete: 11
Completion: Jan 2016     Completion: Apr 2014     Completion: Oct 2015

Programme 2: Timboroa- Malaba
Timboroa – Eldoret     Eldoret – Webuye     Webuye – Malaba
Length: 120km     Length: 60km     Length: 60km
Cost: 3.1b Kshs     Cost: 3.4b Kshs     Cost: 3.8b Kshs
% complete: 68     % complete: 69     % complete: 70
Completion:  May 2014     Completion:  Sep 2014     Completion:  Jun 2014

Programme 3: Mau summit- Kisian
Programme 4: Kisumu- Kitale
Programme 5: Nairobi Southern Bypass
Length:                29 Km
Cost:                17.1b KES.
Percentage Complete:         51
Completion Date:        June 2015
Programme 6: Jomo Kenyatta International Airport – Rironi
JKIA  – Likoni     Likoni – James Gichuru     James Gichuru – Rironi
Length: 8km     Length: 12 km     Length: 26 km
Start: Dec 2014     Start: Jan 2015     Start: Dec 2014
Period: 24 months     Period: 30 months     Period: 30 months
The formation of the East African Community Custom Union has resulted in expanded size of the regional markets and the need to facilitate intra-regional trade and investment. Construction of border crossing facilities and transit organization to improve inland clearance efficiencies are underway.  All one stop border posts are scheduled to be complete between January 2014 and March 2015.

Status of construction:
LungaLunga : 85%
Taveta:          80%
Namanga:       20%
Isebania:        75%
Malaba:          70%
Busia:            60%

The benefits of the One Stop Border Posts include: time saving for transporters to enable more effective use of valuable assets and reduced costs; greater predictability of shipments and reduced need for buffer inventories at the end of long cumbersome supply chains;  increased competitiveness in international markets and reduced prices for consumers; ease of travel between the partner states; improved information sharing and risk management among control agencies; and more effective controls and revenue collection.

Benefits to the government from undertaking sustainable highway development

The government will reap the following benefits from undertaking sustainable highway development: increase in trade, i.e. trade creation and diversification; increase in investments; reductions in travel time and costs; reduction in accidents numbers caused by poor roads;  improvements of safety in the movement of hazardous goods;  decrease  in  vehicle operating costs, enhancement in flood immunity,  increase in flow of commodities and people between the regions; improvement in access to public service and distant labor/goods markets and, therefore, improvements in the welfare and incomes of households along the road;  increases in ecotourism; and reduction in poverty levels due to increase in trade and growth in the economy.

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