Climate Risks and Adaptation Activities

The African transport sector is projected to be heavily impacted by climate change over the coming years. Climate change could increase road maintenance costs by up to 2.7 times across Africa. Roads are at risk of damage across precipitation, flooding, and temperature climate stressors – and the impacts of those stressors differ between road types. Risks to roads include rutting of asphalt due to temperature increases, reduced load carrying capacity due to precipitation, and washaways of road infrastructure due to flooding. Bridges are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, especially flooding which can cause bank erosion and make bridges impassable, and impact costs are projected to rise 1.5-7 times from historic levels.

Across infrastructure sectors, this report defines adaptation activities as those which improve the climate resilience of existing infrastructure (building resilience of the asset), and which employ infrastructure to support systemic resilience (building resilience through the asset). In the context of the transport sector, this includes the following activities: road rehabilitation and climate-proofing, revision of design criteria (and building to those criteria) informed by climate information and risk, implementation of slope protection and new plantation, spot upgrades in crucial areas including elevating low-lying road links, and employment of soil technology to protect rural roads.

Context of Broader Investment

The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA) finds that transport sector commitments totaled USD 32.5 billion in 2018 in Africa. This compares to the USD 100 million tracked in adaptation finance to the transport sector in the same year – suggesting that the vast majority of finance to the sector is not climate resilient. ICA estimates a total transport sector investment gap in Africa of between USD 4 billion and USD 16 billion annually and notes that only about 1/3 of rural Africans live within 2km of an all-season road.

Per the Landscape, public international climate adaptation investment in the transport sector is dominated by East Africa (43%), Southern Africa (35%), and West Africa (16%), with North and Central Africa each receiving less than 5%. Meanwhile, the plurality of overall investment beyond climate adaptation in the sector flowed to Southern Africa (37%), followed by a relatively evenly split among regions with North, West, and East Africa all receiving between 16% and 23% of investment in the sector. Central Africa received by far the least of any sector (USD 1.4 billion or 4.4%) – aligned with the small amount of climate adaptation finance in the sector directed to the region.

African national governments are by far the most significant source of funding to the sector – contributing USD 19.5 billion of the USD 32.4 billion to the sector in 2018, per ICA. As of 2018, China has become the second largest category of funder of the sector (USD 6.6 billion in 2018) and in 2017 became by far the largest individual financier of transport investments. China’s commitments in the sector are concentrated in East Africa – where in 2018, China financed projects across ports, airports, railways, and roads across the region.


This project has been developed in partnership with the Global Center on Adaptation


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