This paper reviews experience with the operation of selected African road funds. Although most African road funds suffer from systematic problems, this review identifies examples of best practice and provides guidance on how to design a road fund that works. The paper has mainly been written for a technical audience and is directed toward officials in developing countries, Bank Task Managers, and officials in other development agencies working to improve the operation of road funds. It is also written for consultants involved in setting up new road funds, or restructuring existing ones.
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.
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.
The report is based on the Interim Work Plan for 2001 issued in February 2001 following discussions with donors at the Initial General Assembly Meeting held in Copenhagen. At that time a three-year program had been presented and discussed, and it was agreed that this interim program should be prepared. This executive summary includes a presentation, in tabular form, of all the planned activities under the Interim Work Plan, and what was actually achieved.