Road transport is the dominant mode of transport in sub-Saharan Africa, carrying close to 90 percent of the region's passenger and freight transport, and providing the only access to rural communities where over 70 percent of Africans live. Despite their importance, most of the region's nearly 2 million km of roads are poorly managed and badly maintained. By 1990, nearly a third of the $150 billion invested in roads had been eroded through lack of maintenance.
Under a concession system the state grants a franchise the right to finance, build, own, operate, and maintain a public infrastructure for a given period, and to charge users for that service. Concessions are normally stand-alone, single-purpose entities that are expected to finance themselves eventually, if not initially, without recourse to their shareholders. They are independent corporate entities run by a dedicated staff that seeks career advancement within the concession company. Invariably, the successful concession has been created because of a compelling economic need.
The Sub-Sahara Africa Transport Program (SSATP) was launched in 1987 as a joint initiative of the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to improve transport sector performance by promoting policy reforms and institutional changes. The SSATP is a broad collaborative effort of national development aid agencies, international agencies (UNDP, ILO, and UNCTAD), and African institutions (i. a. UAR, MINCONMAR, PTA), with the World Bank and ECA acting as the Executing Agencies.