[ What follows are excerpts from the January 8 2014 issue of Newscientist’s “Africa’s road-building frenzy will transform continent” by Andy Coghlan. ]
China is funding most of the new roads to get the minerals they’ve mined, and transport food from the millions of acres of agricultural land they’ve purchased.
These roads are expected to impact large regions of untouched natural habitat. A quarter of the known 4151 mineral deposits in central africa are in irreplaceable natural habitat, most of them unprotected
There are few roads there now, which are only 25% paved — 204 km/road per 1000 square kilometer of land versus a world average of 944 km/road that’s more than half paved.
The 6,000 miles of roads will be expanded 10-fold to 60,000.
Roads enable farmers to produce more because they can buy tools, fertilizer, and other supplies easily. So roads would increase agricultural production given that farmers 4 hours from a city reach 45% of potential output, farmers twice as far (8 hours away) produce just 5% of what they could.