Lifting Senegal and West Africa to new heights via chinadaily.com
Remember my post here on airports (Airports and their importance to Economic growth – lessons from Mozambique, Switzerland and Norway), this article on the new airport (Blaise Diagne International Airport) being built-in Senegal is quite interesting and worth a read.
Senegalese ministers and business leaders believe the construction of a modern airport is crucial for consistent socioeconomic development and that it sends out a positive signal to international investors that Senegal is stepping up to the world stage.
President Abdoulaye Wade is confident the multi-million dollar facility will act as a powerful magnet for fresh investment from China and beyond.
It’s evident that one way of accelerating economic development in Africa is to improve our transportation links to ensure that it is easier for business people to get to places, as it is the case in many other cities across the developed world. In London (or even Manchester or Birmingham) I can jump onto a plane headed for Tokyo within the next 3 or 4 hours with relative ease, and by tomorrow evening (taking account of the time difference 🙂 ) I will be in Japan. It’s impossible to do that kind of thing in some parts of Africa, and one has to travel hundreds of miles to Europe, South Africa or north Africa (e.g. Ethiopia), making some inconvenient (and costly) connections just to get to a major city in another part of the world.
In my view Africa will struggle to attract customers (for example in re Tourism) and investors if our infrastructure is not upgraded and if travelling continues to be a bottleneck. According to the World Bank:
“Air transport is perceived as a major constraint to Africa’s tourism development. Many argue high airfares are a handicap for destinations while others point to the inconvenient and insufficient service of scheduled or even charter services.”
How can Tourism to African countries improve when holiday makers can get better deals elsewhere, in South East Asia, or South America, where they are more likely to find (as if its a bonus) better facilities, improved security, better customer service, etc. And can Tourism to African countries improve when the reports of those that do visit (see here, here, here and here) can be severely damning.
An investor may not locate to your country if travelling is disproportionately expensive, difficult and the cost of bringing in goods and machinery (costs of freight) outweighs the realizable benefits?