Africa’s Greatest Water Voyages: Transforming Africa’s Most Populous Waterside Cities
Water transport has been one of the unique spectacle of Africa’s transport system for centuries. Coastal villages built canoe from hollowed tree trunk dating back more than 5000 years. More recently, archeological digs has shed light on the river-faring tradition of African villages through time.
The oldest canoe in Africa was discovered in Nigeria’s northern region. It is called Dufu
na canoe after the local village where it was found in Yobe state, in 1987. Then came the steam boat and engine-powered water bus and modern roads and airbus and everything changed.
But times are changing. Africa’s rising narrative is bringing with it a renewed focus on maritime enterprises.
Some of the busiest water ways in the continent are found along the African great lake region, River Nile, Lake Chad basin, Atlantic coast in West Africa, Mediterranean sea in North Africa and Red sea in East Africa.
Water buses have been in use before modern bridges came to be. But in a continent with over 1.2 billion people, ferry transport can grow into a big modern phenomenon.
It has the capacity to rebuild countries particularly the remote and beautiful water-logged regions. It presents a viable alternative to land and air transport.
There are viable inland water ways across Africa’s 54 countries.
For example, in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, its commercial capital Lagos you see the opportunities water ways present. Ferries carry passengers and goods round Lagos Island and to many remote locations. But ferry transport statistics are startling.
Lagos is Africa’s most populous city and one of the busiest in the world. This is a city of over 15 million people. But only a limited number of people use modern water transport.
Across Nigeria’s southern tip, you have ferry systems moving people around the riverine states including Cross River, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Delta and Rivers. Nigeria’s inland waterways stretches from River Niger in the south to River Benue in the north. Then you have the Lake Chad and its connecting rivers – often referred to as tributaries – i
n Nigeria’s far north.
Lake Chad basin stretches across seven African countries particularly Niger and Chad creating waterways that can support extensive modern water transport. But more can be done.
Water enterprise could probably be one of the next big story in Africa.
Modern water transport now include hovercrafts, hydrofoil, cruise ships, catamarans and of course ferries. Imagine Africa’s inland water ways connecting big coastal cities and mainland Africa. This will improve transport speed, transform remote water ways and take global trade to a whole new level.