Bloomberg reports that the International Finance Corp (IFC), the finance wing of the World Bank, is promoting the development of toll roads to help build highway infrastructure in Africa. This follows from its financing of a Senegalese toll road. It sees the role of toll roads being particularly on approaches to major urban areas with high volumes of traffic.
Clearly this makes sense, although the key issues with toll roads are:
- Manual tolling delays. While cheap and easy, manual tolls do cost in terms of delays on high volume roads;
- Enforcement. Free flow tolling is impossible without good infrastructure to detect and fine non-payment. Similarly manual tolls need careful monitoring to avoid corruption.
African countries will be able to meet these challenges, and if toll roads ensure motorists pay for the costs of infrastructure they use, it can only be good as these economies grow and to help ensure growth in road transport demand can be managed through price, and for price signals to be sent to help guide future investment decisions.