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Poor state of African roads keeping the continent poor, UN advocate says

Poor state of African roads keeping the continent poor, UN advocate says

The sorry state of much of Africa’s transport and communication networks is holding the continent back and preventing its countries from competing on the global market, the United Nations advocate for the world’s poorest States has told the World Bank.

In an address a meeting at the Bank’s headquarters in Washington, the UN Special Adviser on Africa, Cheick Sidi Diarra said road transport – which accounts for 90 per cent of inter-urban transport in Africa – was particularly poor.

Less than a third of Africa’s estimated two million kilometres of roads are paved, Mr. Diarra noted, and transport costs comprise as much as 77 per cent of the value of African exports.

“There is an urgent need for supporting African countries to develop affordable transport systems that would promote trade expansion, economic growth and competitiveness,” he said, especially in landlocked countries.

Mr. Diarra, who also serves as the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said cumbersome border crossing procedures only further exacerbated the problems for landlocked nations.

“Because of such realities, landlocked developing countries find themselves among the poorest developing countries today, beset with anaemic growth rates and deteriorating social conditions. The widening development gap between landlocked developing countries, especially those in Africa and the rest of the developing world, is a clear and unmistakable trend,” he added.

He called for donor-supported public funding to boost or upgrade Africa’s stocks of roads, buildings and other forms of infrastructure so that it can better compete and work towards the globally agreed set of socio-economic targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).