- The presence of natural resources especially minerals such as coal, iron ore,
uranium, gold, diamonds in the Rand region of South Africa, copper in the Zambian
copper belt and oil in the Niger Delta in Nigeria and Nile delta in Egypt as well as
forest resources such as the Equatorial rain forest in Zaire, Gabon needed cheap rail
transport to facilitate their exploitation.
- The presence of rich agricultural lands needed easy means of transporting the
agricultural produce such as the coastal areas of Ghana favouring cocoa growing,
Southern Nigeria and Zaire with oil palm, Southern Tanzania (Kilombero) and the
Natal Province in South Africa for sugarcane growing favoured railway
- The presence of gentle/ flat land favoured railway construction explaining why
much of it was constructed in Southern Tanzania and along the Nile Valley in Egypt.
- The presence of trade and commerce in some industrial centres also favoured the
establishment of railways since it was needed to cheaply move people and their
goods to various markets and industrial centres. This is particularly so in the Rand
region of South Africa, South West Ghana moving cocoa from Kumasi to various
coastal ports such as Tema, Accra, Takoradi, industrial centres such as Lagos and
Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
- Railway construction was also favoured in some areas by a wide population
distribution that needed cheap means of communication. Such places include the
Nile Valley and Delta region in Egypt; mining centres in the Zambian Copper Belt,
Coastal ports or towns and the Rand conurbation in South Africa.
- The availability of capital to construct and hire the necessary technical labour force
also favoured railway construction. For example, the Tazara railway was financed
by the Chinese Government.
- The favourable Government policy of diversifying transport means while providing
cheap means of transporting bulky products and opening up remote areas also
favoured railway construction. For example the construction of the Tazara to open
up the Southern highlands of Tanzania, the Trans – Zaire railway connecting Banana
to Matadi to Kinshasa, llebo; South Africa connecting the mining and industrial
towns with the coastal ports such as Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth for easy
export of her products. The Trans- Gabon railway connecting the interior
timberlands and allowing the exploitation of iron ore in Belinga and uranium and
manganese at Moanda in the South East.
- The availability of labour, semi and unskilled from the nationals and technical from
the financing bodies favoured railway construction for example the Chinese who
constructed the Tazara railway.
- Political stability also favoured the construction of railways in South Africa, Gabon
- The presence of advanced technology used in the construction of the railways such
as the electrified railways in South Africa and Egypt favoured railway construction.
- Colonial influence or historical factors also determined where the railways were to
be constructed. For example, in Gabon, the French influenced its development
towards the interior to tap forestry products and iron ore in North East Belinga while Zambia, Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria were influenced by the British.
- The presence of water bodies especially rivers and coasts offered outlets for
railways. Rivers connected to these railways increasing traffic flow by supplying
them with goods. For example, River Ogoove in Gabon, River Congo/ Zaire in
Congo, River Vaal in South Africa, Nile in Egypt and Niger in Nigeria.