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How the Lack of Proper Infrastructure has Affected Food Prices in Africa

Investments in infrastructure – such as roads – typically aim to reduce transport costs, stimulate trade and make new production activities viable. Across sub-Saharan Africa, the need for such investments is widely acknowledged. Researchers typically focus on so-called “exogenous shocks”, where neither the location nor timing of changes to infrastructure can be explained by existing economic factors. In Mozambique, one such positive shock occurred in 2009 with the completion of a major bridge over the Zambezi River, financed primarily by external development partners. The Armando Emilio Guebuza Bridge was important for two reasons. First, before it was constructed, the river formed a natural barrier to direct north–south trade along the main highway. Historically, there was a ferry service. But it was extremely inefficient. The journey lasted less than 30 minutes, yet the ferry only ran from 7 am to 5 pm, was notorious for breaking down, and was frequently suspended during the rainy season. As found at many other border posts and river crossings in the region, lengthy queues of vehicles lasting several hours and even days were common. Also, alternative options were limited, necessitating extremely lengthy detours.