Tanzania road infrastructure fueling development opportunities

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  • Tanzania has one of Africa’s longest road networks comprising of an impressive 86,472 km that span across the vast 947,300 square kilometres of land that make up East Africa’s largest country
  • Tanzania’s road network is made up of some 12,786 km of trunk roads, 21,105 km of regional roads and another 52,581 km of district, urban and feeder roads
  • President Samia Suluhu Hassan was earlier last month awarded the Sponsored the Africa Road Builders Babacar Ndiaye Trophy, for her work in infrastructure development

Tanzania has one of Africa’s longest road networks comprising of an impressive 86,472 km that span across the vast 947,300 square kilometres of land that make up East Africa’s largest country.

Tanzania’s road network is made up of some 12,786 km of trunk roads, 21,105 km of regional roads and another 52,581 km of district, urban and feeder roads. For a country that largely depends on road transport for travel and commerce, Tanzania has done an exceptional job of growing its road network over the last few years.

Notably, former President John Magufuli who was also the country’s former Minister of Works, Transport and Communications, was ever so keen on building the country’s transport infrastructure as the basis to the country’s national development agenda.

This visionary and ambitious stance earned him the nickname ‘Bulldozer’ and under his stewardship, Tanzania constructed a 2,624,7km-road network in just five years, that is about 600km per year.

In a media address the then Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communications Elias Kwandikwa acknowledged that; “Under the leadership of Dr Magufuli, the government has set out to diversify the economy and address infrastructural development issues hindering productive activities. Reliable roads are vital for people’s development.”

It is due to his well-known commitment to infrastructure development that even when the current President Samia Suluhu Hassan was earlier last month awarded the Sponsored the Africa Road Builders Babacar Ndiaye Trophy, for her work in infrastructure development, she opted to dedicate the award to the late President Magufuli, the Bulldozer.

“Projects take many years, it is a continuous process. From the first to the fifth phase of government, a lot was done including expanding the road network and connecting various parts of the country…but in these efforts, one person has always been there and this is the late John Pombe Magufuli, my predecessor, who served in the third and fourth phase governments as Minister of Works and Transport before becoming the President, she said and described the late Head of State as, “the most deserving of all Tanzanians (to receive the award).”

The prestigious Africa Road Builders Babacar Ndiaye Trophy is organised by Acturoutes, an information platform on infrastructure and roads in Africa, and the Media for Infrastructure and Finance in Africa (MIFA).

MIFA is a network of African journalists specialising in road infrastructure and they work to highlight all road infrastructure works across the continent. The prestigious trophy is meant to honour leaders’ efforts to build road infrastructure on the continent. It is and is sponsored by the AfDB Group and was created in honour of Babacar Ndiaye, President of the African Development Bank Group between 1985 and 1995.

Most recently the African Development Bank (AfDB) has been front and centre in its support of Tanzania’s road infrastructure works. Notably, AfDB has provided 290 million dollars to support the revitalisation of roads and other infrastructure works as well including railways and air transport in Tanzania.

Tanzania President Samia Suluhu and President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina during the latter’s visit to Tanzania earlier this year.
Photo/AfDB

As mentioned, AfDB has been leading the way in supporting road infrastructure works in Tanzania and evidence of this fact was the recent visit to the country by President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina.

The Bank’s President visited the country on the occasion of the official start of construction of what local media describe as ‘the historic project to build an outer ring road around the capital city of Dodoma.’

Last year, the Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (AfDB) approved another loan of around $116 million to Tanzania for the upgrade of a 160-km road corridor in the southern part of the country.

This enormous funding by the Bank actually served to cover 98.71% of the project cost; while the remaining 1.29% was met by the government of Tanzania. It is expected that the AfDB will continue funding Tanzania’s road works and other transport infrastructure especially given the country’s strategic geographical location.

Tanzania is the gateway into Africa’s interior and it is also the way out to the rest of the world via the Indian Ocean.

In Tanzania, it is the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) that is responsible for the improvement of roads, maintenance and development. The Agency is responsible for the management of 35,000 Km of roads made up of 12,786 Km of trunk roads and 22,214 Km of regional roads.

Also Read: Uganda, DRC settle on trade and roads deal

Top 10 African countries with the best quality roads

  1. Namibia (score 5.2) world ranking 23
  2. South Africa (score 5.0) world ranking 29
  • Rwanda (score 5.0) world ranking 31
  1. Cote d’Ivoire (score 4.7) world ranking 42
  2. Mauritius (score 4.7) world ranking 44
  3. Morocco (score 4.4) world ranking 55
  • Kenya (score 4.2) world ranking 61
  • Botswana (score 4.1) world ranking 6
  1. Cape Verde (score 4.1) world ranking 66
  2. Senegal (score 4.0) world ranking 71

Sources: World Economic Forum competitive report:  Road quality index 2016/17

World’s 5 longest road networks

  1. USA: The US road network exceeds 6.58 million kilometres in total length, making it the world’s longest and biggest road network. It comprises approximately 4.3 million kilometres of paved roads including 76,334km of expressways and 2.28 million kilometres of unpaved roads.
  2. China: China has the world’s second-biggest road network, exceeding well over 4.24 million kilometres. The country’s expressway network, which extends over 96,000km, is the world’s biggest network of this type. The 5,700km-long China National Highway 010 (Tongsan Expressway) is one of the ten longest highways in the world.
  3. India: India’s road network, which spanned over 4.1 million kilometres by 2012, ranks as the third biggest in the world. The road network is the key transport infrastructure, accounting for 65% of freight and 80% of total passenger traffic in the country.
  4. Brazil: The Brazilian road network, with a total length of approximately 1.6 million kilometres, is the fourth biggest road network in the world.
  5. Russia: The Russian road network covers a total length of more than 1.28 million kilometres. The Trans-Siberian Highway comprised seven federal highways and the stretch from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok is one of the longest highways in the world.

Data Source: Road Traffic Technology

Read: Tanzania, Uganda scrap road tolls and allow sugar exports in enhanced bilateral relations

Giza Mdoe is an experienced journalist with 10 plus years. He's been a Creative Director on various brand awareness campaigns and a former Copy Editor for some of Tanzania's leading newspapers. He's a graduate with a BA in Journalism from the University of San Jose.

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