In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Transportation

  • Introduction
  • General Studies
  • Histories
  • Surveys
  • Ethnographies

African Studies Transportation
Gordon Pirie
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 May 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0182


Transport has been one of Africa’s great transformative forces. The amount of writing about transportation in the continent is vast, including both academic and general studies. Most publications deal with transport conditions, policies, and problems at the time they were written. A smaller proportion is retrospective. Reflecting this span, and the interdisciplinarity of transport studies, the contributors to transport publications include anthropologists, economists, geographers, historians, planners, and sociologists. On grounds of universal accessibility, the citations selected for inclusion in this bibliography refer mostly to recent materials in each category and to work in international journals.

General Studies

Just prior to and then during the years of decolonization, it was fashionable to attempt sweeping surveys of African transportation, covering all modes and many countries. Geographers came to the forefront of the discourse, as evidenced by Stamp 1953, Harrison Church 1956, Kimble 1960, Hance 1967, Pollock 1971, and O’Connor 1978. Often congratulatory in tone, these dated overviews contain useful benchmarking materials; they are also historiographically interesting. They have been superseded by narrower country-specific studies, and by professional surveys produced by multinational teams of investigators (see Surveys).

  • Hance, William Adams. African Economic Development. New York: Praeger, 1967.

    A chapter devoted to transport that reviews the role and prospects of the main transport routes and modes in the context of industrializing African economies.

  • Harrison Church, R. J. “The Transport Pattern of British West Africa.” In Geographical Essays on British Tropical Lands. Edited by Robert Walter Steel and Charles A. Fisher, 53–76. London: George Philip, 1956.

    Concentrates on railways (noting rivers where available) as the best mode of transport for bulk transport, with little mention of roads and airways.

  • Kimble, George H. T. Tropical Africa: Land and Livelihood. Vol. 1. New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1960.

    Chapter 11 entitled “The Changing Route Map” is a detailed register of the state of all transportation in the region (see pp. 403–493).

  • O’Connor, Anthony Michael. The Geography of Tropical African Development. Oxford: Pergamon, 1978.

    See chapter 7 on “The Role of Transport” (pp. 138–170).

  • Pollock, Norman C. Studies in Emerging Africa. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1971.

    Chapter 5 is on transport in Africa with special reference to its fourteen landlocked states.

  • Stamp, L. Dudley. Africa: A Study in Tropical Development. New York: Wiley, 1953.

    Chapter 9 devotes fourteen pages to a general survey of transport services and problems. A slightly expanded chapter in the revised 1972 edition with the same title and publisher (and co-written with W. T. W Morgan) records two decades of change.

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