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Transport is the act of moving items and people from one place to another while communication is the process of transferring information between individuals, groups and places.

Factors Influencing Transport and Communication

  1. Existence of sets of corresponding places with surplus (supply) and deficits (demand) for goods, services and information.
  2. Alternative sources may hinder transport and communication e.g. a nearby source of market of a required commodity or source of information or means of communication.
  3. Infrastructure depending on how it is can lead to establishment of efficient or inefficient transport and communication network.
  4. Politics where by the government may ban use of certain means of communication e.g. as was the case with Google in China or where the government may decide to be the leading provider of transport and communication facilities.

Modes of Transport

There are 3 common modes of transport namely land, water and air transport.

Land Transport

-The type that involves movement of people and goods on land.

Types of Land Transport

  1. Human Porterage
    -Movement of people from one place to another carrying light goods on their back, hands or shoulders or by using hand carts, trolleys, bicycles or motorcycles.
  1. Use of animals
    -Use of domesticated animals to carry goods and people on their back or pull loaded carts (drought animals).

Advantages of Human and Animal Transport

  • It's the cheapest and can be used by all classes of people since no fuel is used. Animals require very low maintenance costs as they feed on vegetation.
  • Relatively safe because few accidents occur during transportation.
  • Doesn't pollute the environment as it doesn't use fossil fuels.
  • They are flexible in that they can be used to transport goods in areas without good road network.
  • It's convenient in that it's readily available whenever required.


  • Goods can be stolen or destroyed by wild animals and extreme weather conditions because they are exposed.
  • They are a very slow means of transport hence time consuming, tedious and boring.
  • They can't transport large quantities of goods because human and animal energy get exhausted with time.
  • They can cause congestion on busy urban roads which may delay other forms of transport.
  1. Road Transport

    -Means of transportation of people and goods by motor vehicles on roads.

Types of Roads

  • All weather roads- which are used all year round i.e. tarmac and murrum roads.
  • Dry weather roads- which are used reliably during dry seasons.
  • Motorable trucks- which are used by people on foot and by vehicles on dry season. A truck is a path or rough road made by people, vehicles or animals.

Principal Trans-Continental Highways in Africa

  • Great North Road connecting Cape Town and Cairo through Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia.
  • Trans-Africa Highway from the Port of Mombasa to Dakar in Senegal through east and Central Africa.
  • Dakar-Djamena Highway through Core De Ivoire , Nigeria and Chad.
  • Trans-Sahara Highway from Lagos to Tripoli through Algeria.

Advantages of Road Transport

  • It's a faster means of transport compared to human and animal transport.
  • It's cheaper compared to railway transport because construction of roads is cheaper than that of railways.
  • It's available at ones convenient time.
  • Roads can be constructed in stages improved and even repaired while they are being used.
  • It's flexible in that road connections are available all over the country.


  • Traffic congestion and jams when there are many vehicles on roads which leads to delays and fuel wastage.
  • Its expensive over long distances and when transporting bulky goods.
  • Vehicles can carry a limited number of people and amount of goods at a time making them expensive and uneconomical.
  • It's adversely affected by weather e.g. during heavy rains, roads become impassable and foggy conditions hinder visibility making it easier for accidents to occur.
  • Vehicles pollute the environment by their exhaust fumes and noise which they produce.

  1. Railway Transport

    -Means of transporting people and goods using trains or rails.

Advantages of Railway Transport

  1. Less expensive compared to road transport because it can carry a large number of people and heavy and bulky goods in one trip.
  2. There is no congestion or jam because there is only one train on a given truck at any particular time.
  3. Passenger trains are comfortable for passengers travelling over long distances in that they have facilities such as accommodation, dining and toilets accommodation.
  4. Safer than motor vehicles because they are less prone to accidents.
  5. Have less maintenance costs because they don't require frequent repairs like roads.


  • Very slow means of movement especially of perishable and urgently required goods.
  • Expensive to construct as much iron and steel is used to construct railway lines and trains.
  • Inflexible in that railway lines aren't available all over the country and their direction cannot be changed.
  • Are affected adversely by terrain as where there are steep gradients, tunnels and winding tracks have to be used which adds to the cost of setting up railway system.
  • Specific gauge of railway line can only be used by a specific design of train unlike roads which can be used by many varieties of vehicles.
  • Trains can't use rails while they are being constructed unlike roads which can be used while they are being constructed, improved or even repaired.

Examples of Railway Links in Africa

  • Tazara railway- connects Zambia Copper Belt with the sea port of Dar-es-salaam.
  • Benguela Railway- runs from Zambia Copper Belt to Angola.
  • Kenya Uganda Railway- runs from Mombasa to Kisumu. It has an extension from Nakuru through Eldoret to Malaba then through Tororo to Kampala.
  • Kenya's other railway branches are Voi to Taveta, Konza to Magadi, Nairobi to Nanyuki, Gilgil to Nyahururu, Nakuru to Eldoret and Kisumu to Butere.

Why There Are Few Railway Links among African Countries

  • Administration by different colonial governments who constructed railway links only within areas of their jurisdiction.
  • Political differences which led to mistrust and hostility which works against effort to construct railway jointly.
  • Countries have railways of different gauges making connection to be difficult.
  • Little interstate trade which doesn't warrant construction of railways to transport bulky goods.
  • Countries lack sufficient capital to establish railways.
  • Mountainous landscape and swampy terrain which hinder the development of rails to link the countries.

Problems Which Kenya Experiences In the Rail Transport

  • Competition from other modes of transport which are cheaper and flexible.
  • Frequent accidents from derailments due to inadequate servicing which has led to high maintenance costs and losses when goods are looted.
  • High maintenance and expansion costs causing little expansion of rail lines.
  • Mismanagement of rail services leading to deterioration at lower income.
  • Vandalism during political unrests and by people dealing in scrap metal.
  1. Pipelines

    -Means of movement of fluid or gas products such as water, gas and oil through pipes from one place to another. Pumping stations are constructed along the pipelines to keep the product flowing steadily.
    -In Kenya the main oil pipeline extends from Mombasa through Nairobi to Kisumu and Eldoret where there are main oil depots. The pipeline is managed by Kenya Pipeline Corporation.

Advantages of Pipelines

  • No delay as there is a constant supply of commodity.
  • Convenient in that amounts of commodity can be transported within a short period.
  • There are low operating costs in that minimal labour is required in operating pipelines and also the cost of maintenance of pipelines is lower than for other means.
  • They aren't affected by bad weather like other means of transport.
  • It doesn't pollute the environment like other means of transport except in cases of leakages which are rare.


  • Selective in that they can be used to transport fluids and gases and can transport only one type of commodity at a time.
  • Insecure in that they may be sabotaged if they run across a number of countries when there are political differences or when one country decide to withhold the product.
  • Pipelines may cause pollution if they burst spilling oil, gas or sewage and the problem would be grave if it occurred under water.
  • Inflexible in that they remain permanently in one position and rerouting becomes impossible and further distribution of the substance from depots has to be done by roads and railways.

Water Transport

-It involves movement of goods and people over waterways/ water bodies.
-Water transport is classified into two: Sea Waterways/ marine water transport and inland water ways.

Sea Waterways/ Marine Water Transport

Involves movement of goods and people over seas. There are the following types of vessels used in sea transport:

  1. Liners

They are ship with the following characteristics:

  • Operate along fixed routes and time schedules.
  • They transport both people and goods.
  • Fixed rate of freight charges.

There are two types of liners:



Passenger Liners

  • Carry people and small valuable items.
  • Have luxurious facilities e.g. cinemas, shops, banks, hotels, etc.

Cargo Liners

  • For carrying both goods and people.
  • Have loading and unloading facilities.
  • Slower in speed
  • Less prestigious
  • Smaller in size compared to passenger liners.
  • Some carry different products while other carry specialised goods e.g. petroleum.
  1. Tramps

- They are ships meant for transporting cargo.

  • No fixed routes or schedules.
  • Are slower in speed
  • Have lower freight charges compared to liners

Improvements in Ocean Transport

  1. Refrigeration facilities to enable transportation of perishable goods.
  2. Containerisation (parking of goods in standard sealed metal containers which are unsealed at the destination).

Advantages of Containerisation

  • Safety and security because containers are sealed which protects goods from destruction by bad weather and from being stolen.
  • Easy to handle because containers are fitted with special devices like hooks and rings which makes loading and unloading easy.
  • Time saving because goods are put in one container than being carried in several boxes which makes loading and unloading easy.
  • It's economical in terms of space because containers have a standard shape which reduces wastage of space by allowing tight packaging of goods.

Ocean/ sea Routes/ Ocean Trade routes

Are well marked routes through which Ocean traffic passes. They are also called ocean trading routes because they have come about as a result of trading activities among various regions.

Major ocean routes are concentrated in the northern hemisphere due to the following:

  • High degree of industrialisation
  • Intensive trading activities
  • High population
  • Availability of ocean terminals in developed countries of Europe, N. America and parts of Asia.

World major Sea Routes

  1. Panama Canal Sea Route- connects Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
  2. Cape of Good Hope Sea Route- serves eastern and western coasts of Asia, New Zealand and Australia.
  3. North Pacific Sea Route- serves industrialised countries of Asia e.g. Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, S. Korea and W.N. America.
  4. Atlantic Sea Route- connects W. Europe to E.N. America.
  5. Mediterranean Asiatic Sea Route- connects Europe to Africa and the Far East countries.
  6. Trans-Atlantic sea Route- connects Europe to E.S. America.

Inland Water Ways

-Movement of goods and people over rivers, lakes and canals.

Examples of Navigable Rivers of Africa

  • Section of R. Congo
  • Nile from Uganda to Khartoum
  • Ogowe in Gabon.
  • Sections of R. Niger
  • Tana
  • Zambezi

Examples of Navigable Rivers in Other Parts of the World

  • Rhine and its tributaries main, Meuse and Ruhr.
  • Mississippi and its tributaries Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee.
  • Mackenzie, Yukon, Nelson and Albany in N. America.
  • Most important water way in N. America is the St. Lawrence Sea Way .

Examples of Lakes which are inland water ways are such as Victoria (largest inland waterway in E. Africa, Tanganyika, Malawi, Albert and also man-made lakes such as Kariba, Nasser, Volta and Kainji.

Factors Which Have Hindered Development of River Transport in Africa

  1. Inadequate capital to develop waterways, ports and for the purchase of vessels.
  2. Fluctuation of water levels which makes sailing difficult as a result of rivers passing through dry areas.
  3. Presence of rapids and waterfalls which hinders the vessels' movement.
  4. Siltation of rivers which makes their channels shallow hence hindering movement of vessels.
  5. Presence of floating vegetation which makes it difficult for vessels to sail due to narrowing of the river channel.
  6. Most rivers pass through unproductive zones hence it's uneconomical to develop river transport.
  7. Rivers flow across political boundaries which may require negotiation in order for the countries involved to use them for transport.
  8. Inadequate technology.

Canal Transport

A canal is a water channel that is cut through land for boats or ships to travel along. Some canals join large water bodies like seas and oceans.

Examples of Canals

  • Suez Canal which joins Mediterranean and Red Sea.
  • Panama Canal which connects Caribbean Sea with Pacific Ocean.
  • Dortmund-Ems Canal which joins R. Rhine to the N. Sea.
  • Soo canals which connects connecting L. Superior to L. Huron.

The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Sea Way

  • It's the most important sea way in N. America shared by U.S.A. and Canada.
  • It's located along the boundary between the two countries.
  • It stretches over 3680km from Atlantic Ocean to the interior of N. America up to L. Superior.
  • It comprises of St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario.

Shortcomings of the seaway before development

  • It had obstacles of rock outcrops, rapids, waterfalls and small islands.
  • Shallow sections due to silting
  • Narrow sections (bottle necks).
  • Freezing of water in winter.
  • Presence of fog and mist at the mouth of St. Lawrence River.
  • Lawrence Sea Way Project was started by U.S.A. and Canadian governments in 1954 to construct and improve navigability of St. Lawrence River.

Objectives of the Project

  • Promote trade and industrialisation between the two countries.
  • Remove silt between L. Erie and Huron.
  • Regulate the flow of St. Lawrence River through dam construction.
  • Smoothen river channel by removing rapids, small islands, rock outcrops etc.
  • Regulate different water levels along the sea way through dredging to widen and deepen shallow sections within the lakes and the river.

What the Seaway Project Was Involved In

  • Dredging of the shallow sections to deepen to accommodate large shipping vessels.
  • Formation of water reservoirs behind dams to drown rapids allowing ocean vessels to move along the routes.
  • Installation of radar and light on ships to improve the navigation of ships in order to avoid accidents.
  • Blasting to remove the rocky islands and narrow sections along the sea route.
  • Construction of canals to join the lakes and bypass obstacles e.g.
    • Soo Canals to join L.Superior and Huron.
    • Welland Canal joining L. Erie and Ontario to bypass Niagara Falls.
    • New York State Barge Canal to connect L. Erie to Hudson River.

Benefits/Role of St. Lawrence Seaway to the Economies of U.S.A. and Canada

  • Source of foreign exchange for the two countries because many tourists are attracted hereby the scenery e.g. Niagara Falls.
  • Dams along the seaway are used to produce H.E.P. which stimulated growth of industries.
  • Fishing is undertaken in dams and lakes along the water way.
  • Development of agricultural activities along the seaway e.g. villages which practice horticultural farming.
  • It's a source of employment e.g. tour guides, security, transport, etc.
  • Source of revenue to U.S.A. and Canada from toll charges paid by ships which go there.
  • Lakes and the seaway are sources of fresh water for domestic and industrial purposes.
  • Increased trade between the two countries and other countries of the world.
  • Reduction of transport costs to and from the interior of the continent.

Advantages of Water Transport

  • Offers less friction to the movement of vessels as it's the case with roads.
  • Are natural and free transport routes requiring less artificial infrastructures
  • Less expensive because large loads can be carried at minimal costs and water routes require minimal maintenance.
  • It's a reliable mode of transport since there is very little traffic congestion on waterways because the waterway is large.
  • Goods are protected because they are transported in containers or tankers.
  • It's a safe mode of transport for delicate goods.


  • Many water ways are affected by water fluctuation like low volumes and high volumes which make them to flow swiftly which make them unnavigable.
  • Water transport is the slowest and unsuitable for perishables, casualties and medicines.
  • Great loses are incurred during accidents such as fire outbreaks, typhoons, tsunamis and mechanical breakdown due to the large carrying capacity of the vessel.
  • High capital is required in the purchasing of modern shipping vessels and maintenance of parts.
  • Ocean transport is available only to people who live near water ways unlike roads which are flexible.
  • Insecurity in the oceans where pirates steal from and attack sailing ships.
  • Sea vessels greatly contribute to water pollution as most of the wastes are thrown into the sea.

Types of Communication

  1. Verbal communication-communication by word of mouth e.g. telephone, face to face and radio.
  2. Written communication-communication by writing e.g. letters. Magazines, newspapers and journals.
  3. Audio-visual communication-communication by using a combination of sounds, signs and pictures e.g. gestures, beating drums, smoke, shouting in a special way, television, etc.

Telecommunication Services

-Communication over a distance using cables or wireless communication e.g.

  1. Telephone-converts sound into electronic signals and back to sound waves at the receiving end.
  2. Facsimile (fax)- send information through telephone lines by converting written information into electronic signals and back to written at the receiving end.
  3. Internet-global network of computers linked via telephone and enables individuals to send e-mail. It is the fastest, cheapest and connected all over the world.

Role of Transport and Communication in the Economic Development of Africa

  1. development of trade because buyers are able to move to markets, traders are able to move to market centres where products are in high demand and order goods for sale without necessarily going to the suppliers which reduces transport costs and hence increases profits.
  2. Development of infrastructure by making tourist attractions accessible.
  3. Promotion of industrial development/establishment of more industries since areas with good transport and communication networks are likely to attract investors to set up industries and finished goods are able to reach consumers easily. Communication enables industrialists to know where raw materials are available without having to move a lot.
  4. Promotes international understanding because it enables citizens of different countries to be in close contact enabling them to learn about and appreciate each others culture resulting in good relationship.
  5. Many people are employed in the transport and communication sectors e.g. drivers, mechanics, engineers, journalists, broadcasters, computer programmers etc.
  6. Settlements develop where transport routes converge e.g. Khartoum at the confluence of blue and white Nile and Mombasa.
  7. Transport opens up remote areas for exploitation of natural resources such as minerals, fish, tourists' attractions because labour can be easily ferried to such areas and resources can be taken easily to processing sites.
  8. transport and communication are sources of revenue to the government e.g. tax levied on air time, license fees charged when one wants to start T.V. or radio station, etc.

Problems Facing Transport and Communication in Africa and their Possible Solutions

  1. Some countries are landlocked i.e. located far inland away from oceans e.g. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, etc. the solution is to develop good relations among the nations in the continent so that countries which have access to the sea permit their landlocked neighbours to have direct access to the sea routes.
  2. Regions having rugged relief due to presence of features like mountains e.g. mountains Kenya and Kilimanjaro which makes construction of roads and railways difficult and expensive. Presence of rapids and waterfalls which causes swift movement of water makes development of river transport difficult. The solution is constructing passes and tunnels through ridges and slopes and building of bridges across rivers and valleys to allow construction of roads and railways.
  3. Shortage of navigable rivers because rivers have navigable stretches, presence of obstacles and fluctuations of water volumes, narrowness and shallowness all of which makes navigation difficult. Solution is widening and deepening of river channels through dredging and construction of dams across rivers to improve navigation.
  4. Vandalism of communication facilities such as telephones and their cables which hinders communication. The solution would be prosecution of people caught in possession of communication materials.
  5. Lack of adequate capital for establishment and maintenance of transport and communication infrastructure e.g. vehicles, locomotives, aircraft, satellites, computers, etc. The solution is joint partnership between African countries with donors in order to finance establishment of communication infrastructure and also.
  6. Political instability in countries such as Somalia which have affected transport and communication. The solution would be to set peace mission in the affected countries in order to restore stability.
  7. Communication experiences language barriers due to many ethnic groups with majority who only communicates through vernacular making international communication difficult. Solution is adoption of major international languages like French and English to help Africa engage in international communication.
  8. High cost of travelling due to high cost of fuel causing the low and middle class persons to travel less which reduces profits realised in the transport sector. The solution is management and conservation of energy to save on the available resources and alternative sources of energy.
  9. Deep rooted colonial heritage where colonialists constructed railways of different gauges which makes extension of railways into neighbouring countries difficult. Efforts are being made by several African countries to change the pattern of roads and railways and joint construction of roads and railways.
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