Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist, takes a look at the problems with the transportation network in west Africa and discusses how this is a major factor in the region’s stunted development.
Pity the entrepreneur who wants to do business under such conditions. If goods travel at 75 miles a day […] it is almost impossible to import materials or export products profitably from Africa’s backwaters. The economic geographers Nuno Limão and Tony Venables have estimated that high transport costs explain almost all of Africa’s economic isolation. Certainly, exporters have not been able to take full advantage of US and EU trade concessions.