Home / Skip Navigation LinksNews & Media / News / Railways, Roads and Airports

Can Tanzania pave its way out of poverty?

Photo: Dom Pates
In Tanzania most government spending goes to infrastructure. One of the projects, the TANZAM Highway, has reduced travel time to a fraction and boosted economic growth.
One of Africa's most important commercial routes cuts through green mountains, banana plantations and national parks of Tanzania - from Zambia in the west to the important harbor of Dar Es Salaam by the Indian Ocean.

Just a decade ago it could take as long as three days on dusty, bumpy roads to get the agricultural goods and other products to their destinations.

Mobility in Sub-Sahara

Today, however, the distance can be covered in just ten hours. The explanation for the improved travel time is the TANZAM Highway.

Now nearly complete, the 921 kilometers of smooth asphalt is contributing to the economic growth of the entire region.

"The roads used to be really bad," says COWI road engineer Elhanan Lema.

"It was a real challenge for people to get to market with their goods. During the rainy season, it was almost impossible. Good roads like TANZAM allow people to be mobile and they have laid the foundation for trade and development," says Lema.

The path to development
One of the problems with bad roads is that transport times are so long, that many goods spoil before reaching market. But bad roads are more than a barrier for growth: ever important areas such as healthcare and education also suffer, when people cannot travel easily.

"Roads are the path to development," says Jan Kieler, Senior Vice President, COWI Africa. "Tanzania gets it, so infrastructure is the largest item on their national budget."

In the past few years Tanzania has seen growth rates of five percent, showing that its roads to development are paved with asphalt.
And with TANZAM providing access to one of East Africa's busiest ports, connecting neighboring Zambia and other countries in the region, hopes are that further road construction will also brighten their economies as well.

LAST UPDATED: 16.02.2014