Sub-saharan Africa's rail freight transport system : potential impact of densification on cost

De Bod, Anneke ; Havenga, Jan H. (2010)

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The main response to sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) challenges has been foreign aid. Yet, despite the large amounts received, the challenges remain. There is an opportunity to consider a different model with less focus on aid and more on investment. In the transport sector specifically, investment decisions should be informed by a long-term optimal balance between different transport modes. The research presented in this paper highlights the significant cost reduction opportunities possible through the densification of rail freight, especially over longer distances, with concomitant implications for increased profitability for rail operators. The densification opportunity should also place a core focus on transport corridors being developed throughout the region. SSA countries themselves can play a critical role in unlocking this potential through, inter alia, simplifying regional economic communities and taking the lead in structuring agreements with the international community.

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