Role of transport and communication in the economic development of Africa

  • Promotes industrial development. Means of transport influence the location of a given industry as they influence raw material availability, labour mobility and market accessibility for finished goods. Accessible areas are likely to attract more industrial establishments.
Role of transport and communication in the economic development of Africa
Photo by James Wheeler on

  • Promotes local and international trade. Expanded transport and communication in Africa has opened new trade areas and markets and encouraged mass production. Trade within Africa and the rest of the world has been enhanced by improved transport.
  • Promotes tourism. Air transport is instrumental in transporting tourists to various game parks throughout Africa. Other tourists visit Africa via cruise ships.
  • Opens up remote areas for exploitation. Remote areas with vast forest and mineral resources have been opened up for exploitation through the establishment of transport and communication networks.
  • Enhances interaction among people. The development of transport and communication has increased human contact thus leading to exchange of technology and promoting understanding among people.
  • Creation of employment opportunities. Transport and communication are themselves individual industries that employ millions of people in sera routes, air routes, rail lines and roadways.
  • Development of urban centres. Some towns develop along major highways while others develop at road junctions.

  • Promotion of national image. In some countries, the government operates national airlines to promote the image of the countries e.g the Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and air Nigeria.



Railway transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods, by way of wheeled vehicles running on rails. It is also commonly referred to as train transport.


Huge Capital Outlay

The railway requires is a large investment of capital. The cost of construction, maintenance, and overhead expenses are very high as compared to other modes of transport.

Moreover, investments are specific and immobile. In case the traffic is not sufficient, the investments may mean the wastage of huge resources.

Unsuitable for Short Distance and Small Loads

Railway transport is unsuitable and uneconomical for a short distance and small traffic of goods.


As railways require huge capital outlay, they may give rise to monopolies and work against public interest at large. Even if controlled and managed by the government, lack of competition may breed inefficiency and high costs. 

Centralized Administration

Being the public utility service railways have a monopoly position and as such, there is centralized administration. Local authorities fail to meet the personal requirements of the people as compared to roadways

No Rural Service

Because of huge capital requirements and traffic, railways cannot be operated economically in rural areas. Thus, large rural areas have no railway service even today. This causes much inconvenience to the people living in rural areas. 

 Lack of Door to Door Service

Rail transport cannot provide door-to-door service as it is tied to a particular track. Intermediate loading or unloading involves greater cost, more wear and tear, and wastage of time.

 Lack of Flexibility

Another disadvantage of railway transport is its inflexibility. Its routes and timings cannot be adjusted to individual requirements.



Air transport is a mode of transportation that involves the transportation of goods and passengers by the use of airplanes, helicopters, and other types of aircraft. Air transport is the most recent mode of transport. It is the gift of the 20th century to the world. 


High Costs

Air transport is a costly service. Its operational costs are too high. Middle class and poor people can not affect its cash.

More Risks

Air transport is prone to accidents. A small mistake can be very dangerous for passengers. Hijacking of planes is easily possible.

Huge Investments

For creating aviation facilities, huge investments are required. The cost of airplanes, construction, and maintenance of aerodromes and control mechanisms needs a capital expenditure.


Most of the air transport is uncertain because these are controlled by weather conditions. It is seriously affected by adverse weather conditions. Fog, snow, and heavy rain weather may cause the cancellation of some flights.

Small Carrying Capacity

The air crafts have a small carrying capacity and therefore these are not suitable for carrying bulky and cheaper goods. the load capacity cannot be increased as it is found in the case of rails.


water transport is the movement of people and goods by boats, ships, barge or sailboat across ocean, sea, lake, canal or river or through other modes of water transportation

advantages of water transport

it has Larger Capacity

It can carry much larger quantities of heavy and bulky goods such as coal, and, timber, etc. 

for example, Tanzania is able to import tonnes of oil and other products from the middle east, India, and china through water transport.

this would not be possible if they were done through another mode of transport such as roads, railway, and air transport

it offers Flexible Service

It provides a much more flexible service than railways and can be adjusted to individual requirements.  

it is more Safe

The risks of accidents and breakdowns, in this form of transport, are minimum as compared to any other form of transport.   

Low Cost

Rivers are a natural highway that does not require any cost of construction and maintenance.

Even the cost of construction and maintenance of canals is much less, or they are used, not only for transport purposes but also for irrigation, etc.

Moreover, the cost of the operation of inland water transport is very low.

Thus, it is the cheapest mode of transport for carrying goods from one place to another.

Less Maintenance Cost

Maintenance cost in rail and road transport is quite high but the maintenance cost of water transport is quite less.

Useful During Natural Calamities

During natural calamities like flood and rains, when rail and road transport is disrupted, relief operations can be operated through water transport.

boost trade between countries

water transport has enabled countries far apart to conduct trade.

for example, countries like Tanzania and Kenya have been able to transport their agricultural products to China and India while countries like China and India are able to export their manufactured electronics and motor vehicles to countries in Africa and America many kilometers away.

source of foreign currencies to the country

water transport has been a source of foreign exchange for countries which owns port located in strategic areas such as Rotterdam port, Singapore port and Mombasa port in east Africa.

the ports are used to imports goods to land located countries and these countries pay taxes and port charges to countries owning the port.

for example countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are paying port charges to the Kenyan government by importing their goods through the Mombasa port.

Water transport is the cheapest and the oldest mode of transport. It operates on a natural track and hence does not require huge capital investment in the construction and maintenance of its track except in case of canals



The transport industry in Tanzania is primarily composed of road, rail, and air transportation. The road network is the most extensive and important mode of transportation, connecting major urban centers and rural areas. The Tanzania National Roads Agency is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the country’s national and regional roads. However, many of the roads are in poor condition and are a major cause of accidents.

Measures taken to address the problems of the transport industry in Tanzania include the following: 

Formulation of Policies and Laws

Formulating well-crafted policies and laws that promote the development of the transport industry is crucial for addressing challenges in Tanzania’s transportation sector. Clear and comprehensive policies can create a conducive environment for investment, innovation, and sustainable growth. These policies should outline guidelines for infrastructure development, safety standards, regulatory frameworks, and incentives for both local and foreign investors. By aligning policies with industry needs, the government can attract private sector participation, leading to improved infrastructure, enhanced logistics, and increased efficiency in the transport sector.

Punishment for Corruption Scandals

Addressing corruption scandals involving government officials related to embezzlement of funds allocated for transport construction requires strict measures and accountability. Implementing stringent legal actions against those involved in corruption can act as a deterrent. Establishing an independent anti-corruption agency to investigate and prosecute cases can ensure transparency and fairness. Public awareness campaigns can also foster a culture of accountability, encouraging citizens to report suspicious activities. Ensuring transparency in fund allocation, utilization, and project management can reduce the risk of corruption, ultimately improving the efficiency and quality of transportation infrastructure projects.

Standardized Railway Connectivity

Collaboration among East African countries to build railway lines with standardized gauges and trucks is vital for seamless connectivity within the region. Standardized infrastructure facilitates efficient movement of goods and passengers across borders, reducing delays and logistical complexities. By adopting uniform railway gauges and truck specifications, cross-border transportation becomes more cost-effective and time-efficient. This interconnectedness can boost trade, tourism, and economic growth, strengthening the ties among neighboring nations and promoting regional integration.

Revenue Collection and Donor Assistance

Efforts to enhance revenue collection and seek assistance from donors play a pivotal role in financing infrastructure construction in Tanzania’s transport sector. Strengthening revenue collection mechanisms, such as tolls, taxes, and user fees, can generate funds to support infrastructure development. Collaborating with international organizations and donor agencies can provide financial resources and technical expertise to accelerate project implementation. Proper management of funds, along with transparent reporting, ensures that financial resources are allocated effectively, leading to the construction and maintenance of vital transport infrastructure that contributes to the country’s economic development.

Training of manpower in various fields of the transportation sector like pilots, cabin crew, mechanics, civil engineers etc.

By providing training and education to transport industry workers, they will have a better understanding of safety procedures and regulations, which will help to reduce accidents and improve overall safety.

Partnership with development partners

The government could also partner with development partners such as the World Bank and African Development Bank to secure funding for infrastructure projects.

Private sector investment

The government could also encourage private sector investment in the transport industry to bring in new capital and expertise.

Investment in new technologies

The government could also invest in new technologies such as electric vehicles and high-speed trains to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

Keeping Sufficient Oil Reserves for Oil Fluctuations

Tanzania’s transport industry is heavily dependent on oil for fuel. To address the challenges posed by oil price fluctuations, the government could establish and maintain sufficient oil reserves. By building and managing reserves, Tanzania can buffer against sudden oil price spikes, ensuring a stable supply of fuel for transportation. This measure would insulate the transport sector from the volatile nature of global oil markets, enabling smoother operations and cost predictability.

Advancement of Science and Technology

Embracing technological advancements can significantly alleviate issues in Tanzania’s transport industry. By integrating GPS navigation systems, real-time traffic monitoring, and data analytics, the sector can enhance route optimization, reduce fuel consumption, and minimize travel times. Additionally, adopting smart transportation solutions like electronic toll collection and mobile ticketing systems can streamline operations, enhance user experience, and contribute to efficient resource utilization.

Maintenance and Repair of Transport Infrastructure

To address the problem of deteriorating transport infrastructure, the Tanzanian government could prioritize regular maintenance and repair. By investing in the upkeep of roads, bridges, and railway networks, the country can ensure safe and efficient transportation for citizens and goods. Regular maintenance not only extends the lifespan of infrastructure but also reduces the frequency of costly emergency repairs, enhancing overall efficiency and safety.

Improved Public Transport Options

Enhancing public transport is vital for addressing congestion and accessibility challenges. The government could invest in improving options like buses and minivans. This could involve upgrading vehicle fleets with newer, more fuel-efficient models, expanding routes to cover underserved areas, and implementing modern fare collection systems. By providing affordable, reliable, and accessible public transport, Tanzania can reduce the reliance on private vehicles, alleviate traffic congestion, and promote sustainable urban mobility.


Importance of transport in Tanzania

In this article, we will explore the significant role that transportation plays in Tanzania. Transport is a crucial aspect of the country’s development, connecting people, goods, and services across its diverse landscapes.

From bustling cities to remote rural areas, an efficient transportation system is essential for economic growth, accessibility to education and healthcare, and the overall well-being of Tanzanian communities.

By examining the importance of various modes of transportation, such as roads, railways, and air travel, we can better understand how they contribute to Tanzania’s progress and connectivity on both local and global scales.

The following are the importance of transport in Tanzania

Source of Employment

Transportation plays a vital role in generating employment opportunities in Tanzania. The various modes of transportation, including road, rail, air, and maritime, require a workforce for operation, maintenance, and management. This ranges from drivers, pilots, and mechanics to administrative and support staff. Additionally, the transportation sector indirectly creates employment by boosting related industries such as logistics, vehicle manufacturing, and tourism.

Promotes Trade and Commerce

Transportation is a linchpin for Tanzania’s trade and commerce activities. It facilitates the movement of goods from production centers to markets, both domestically and internationally. Efficient transport systems reduce the costs and time associated with moving goods, promoting economic growth by encouraging increased trade. Access to better transportation options enhances connectivity between regions, allowing businesses to expand their market reach.

Promotes Unity and Understanding

Transportation fosters unity and cultural understanding by connecting geographically diverse regions within Tanzania. Improved transportation infrastructure and networks enable people from different areas to interact, exchange ideas, and share experiences. This exchange promotes cultural integration and helps overcome regional disparities, contributing to a more cohesive and united society.

Facilitates Exploitation of Natural Resources

The transport sector is instrumental in enabling the exploration and utilization of Tanzania’s abundant natural resources. Remote areas with valuable resources, such as minerals, timber, and agricultural products, become accessible through well-developed transportation networks. This accessibility is crucial for extracting, processing, and distributing these resources, ultimately contributing to economic growth and development.

Encourages the Development of Industries

A well-established transportation system encourages industrial development in Tanzania. Industries rely on a consistent supply of raw materials and the distribution of finished products to reach consumers. Effective transportation ensures timely and cost-efficient movement of resources and goods, supporting the growth and sustainability of various sectors, including manufacturing and agriculture.

Encourages the Development of Settlements

Transportation infrastructure influences the distribution and growth of settlements across Tanzania. Improved connectivity makes previously remote areas more attractive for habitation and investment. This leads to the establishment of new towns, cities, and urban centers along transportation corridors. As settlements grow around transportation hubs, they create hubs of economic activity, social interaction, and services.

Source of Government Revenue

The transport sector contributes significantly to government revenue through various means. Taxes, fees, and tariffs associated with transportation services and infrastructure contribute to public funds. Import and export duties on goods transported through different modes also generate revenue. Furthermore, government investments in transportation infrastructure stimulate economic activity and subsequently increase tax revenues from related industries.

In Tanzania, the importance of transportation is multi-faceted, influencing economic development, social cohesion, resource utilization, and revenue generation. A well-functioning transportation system contributes to a more interconnected and prosperous nation.


Advantages and disadvantages of human transport

Human transport or human portage is the transport of people and/or goods using human muscle power, in the form of walking, and running from one place to another.

Advantages of human transport

  • It is readily available all the time.
  • It is cheap and affordable than any other form of transport.
  • It is Safe than other means of transport
  • It is not affected by congestion.
  • Human transport does not pollute the environment

Disadvantages of human transport 

  • It depends on the physical fitness of the person.
  • It is extremely slow and laborious.
  • This transport is only suitable for carrying light goods over short distances.


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