Can China Realize Africa’s Dream of an East-West Transport Link?

Author
Cobus van Staden
Content Type
Journal Article
Journal
China Brief
Volume
18
Issue Number
6
Publication Date
April 2018
Institution
The Jamestown Foundation
Abstract
Several ambitious schemes have been proposed to link Africa’s east and west coasts, some of which are closer to full realization than others. Most notable in this respect is a plan to expand the existing Trans-African Highway 5 (TAH5) into a true cross-continental road and rail link, the early stages of which China has helped bring to fruition where Western consortiums failed. Likewise, Chinese investment in African infrastructure through Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may help create expanded sub-regional linkages, particularly in East Africa, that could help facilitate the emergence of an eventual, true East-West link in the long term. However, in the short-to-mid-term, the obstacles to a truly robust set of East-West transport links are formidable, and it is unlikely that China’s involvement will be a panacea.
Topic
Development, International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Soft Power
Political Geography
Africa, China, Asia