Ever since the first steam train chugged into Africa at the end of the last century, the railway systems of Africa have become increasingly important.
Ever since the first steam train chugged into Africa at the end of the last century, the railway systems of Africa have become increasingly important. Not merely as a form of transport -- but as a means of allowing economic and industrial development throughout the continent. In 1972, the need for greater co-operation between African nations in the field of rail transport led to the creation of the African Railway Union and on Monday (7 August), the organisation held its first symposium in Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast.
SYNOPSIS: The growth of Africa's rail systems, with new routes crossing the continent, followed the pattern of the opening up of North America in the nineteenth century. Roads in many African states are poor and so railways provide the chief means of communication. The efficient transporting of people, goods, raw materials and machinery is vital to developing nations, moving swiftly from agrarian societies to indus trial-based economies.
Some 250 delegates from 42 African countries gathered in the Congress Hall of the Hotel Ivorie in Abidjan. the theme of the conference was economic development and co-operation of African railways. The symposium was attended by 14 African Transport Ministers and technicians and engineers from all over Africa.
Mr. Lancina Konate, President of the African Railway Union, addressed the opening session of the conference. The President of the Ivory Coast, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, was represented by his Minister of State, Auguste Denise. Mr. Konate reported the latest statistics of rail development. Africa now has over 95,000 kilometres (56,515 miles) of railway lines and a further 6,000 kilometres (3,726 miles) of track is in the process of being laid. Mr. Konate described the railway as the form of transport most suitable to ensure the economic and social development of African nations.