There are over one and a half million km of roads in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), including 554,000 km of main roads. Almost without exception, these roads are managed by bureaucratic government roads departments. The roads carry 80 to 90 percent of the region's passenger and freight traffic, absorb 5 to 10 percent of central government recurrent budgets and 10 to 20 percent of their development budgets.
Until the late 1970s, the Finnish Road and Waterways Administration (RWA) operated as a highly centralized agency. Then RWA started its gradual reforms. In the mid 1980s, RWA began evolving into a market-oriented road administration. As part of the reform process, there have been profound changes in competition law, principles of public procurement, and in the legislation enabling the creation of state-owned enterprises and the commercialization of government agencies.
This note is based on the Road Management Initiative (RMI) Country Coordinator for Kenya, Mr. F.N. Nyangaga's progress report, presented to the World Road Congresses in Kuala Lumpur, 1999. The RMI has, over the past ten years, worked with interested African countries to identify the underlying causes of poor road management policies, and to develop an agenda of reforms that will facilitate sustainable management of the public road networks.