Railways in Eastern Africa


Burundi has a relatively dense road network, covering a total of 12,380 km, of which 1,450 km is listed as national highways. There is no railway, but plans for a Uganda-Rwanda-Burundi-Tanzania line exist.

Burundi Emoji flag

Bujumbura is the most important port for freight and passenger transport on Lake Tanganyika. Most of the foreign trade is carried by sea between Bujumbura and Tanzania, Zambia and Congo (Kinshasa). Bujumbura International Airport is located.


More than half of the 900 km of roads on the islands are paved. Some of these roads are navigable year round. Railways are missing. International airport is located near Moroni on Ngazidja. Regular ferry connections are available from all the islands to Madagascar and East Africa.

Comoros Emoji Flag


The railway, which connects the city of Djibouti with Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, is jointly owned by both countries. Of the total distance of 780 km, 100 km runs in Djibouti. The road network covers 3,000 km, of which 1,000 are year-round roads.

Djibouti Emoji flag

Djibouti International Airport is located in Ambouli, 6 km from the capital.


Ethiopia’s size and topography have made the transport sector one of the weak links in the country’s economy. The road network is sparse despite significant efforts in recent decades and in 2010 covered 36,500 km of all-weather road. Within the framework of various projects in rural areas for disaster prevention, local road networks have been developed in previously inaccessible areas. In 2014, a new road was opened between the cities of Yabelo and Mega in southern Ethiopia. The road links to the Kenyan road system.

Ethiopia Emoji Flag

The railway network confines itself to the 660 km long Addis Ababa – Djibouti line, which has long been the dominant route for foreign trade. In 2010, a major project for the expansion of the railway network was initiated.

As one of largest countries in Africa by COUNTRYAAH.COM, Ethiopia has two international airports (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa). The country’s airline, Ethiopian Airlines, is considered one of the continent’s foremost and is also one of its few profitable companies. The company’s base for technical maintenance is one of the largest and most advanced in Africa. Domestic aviation has long been well developed.


Eritrea’s transport network carries clear traces of 30 years of poor maintenance and war. In 2018, the rail network amounted to 300 km. The majority of Eritrea’s roads are unpaved and often in very poor condition. The road between Asmera and Mitsiwa, which is of great importance to the country’s economy, is being repaired.

Eritrea Emoji Flag

The country has two important ports, Mitsiwa and Aseb. Mitsiwa was severely injured during the 1990 war, while Aseb was injured during the 1998-2000 war. Both are under reconstruction. The country has two international airports but these have only limited traffic.


The road network in Kenya is well developed and maintains a good standard in the more densely populated areas. In total there are 160 900 km of roads, of which 7,000 are main roads. An all-weather road links Nairobi with Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, and a roughly 590 km long road from Lodwar in northwestern Kenya to Juba in southern Sudan was opened in 1989. In 2018, the railway network included 3,819 km of narrow gauge railway (gauge 1,000 mm).

Kenya Emoji flag

In Mombasa there is an international deep harbor, which among other things. handles transit goods to Uganda, eastern Congo (Kinshasa), Burundi and Rwanda. International airports are located in Nairobi (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport), Mombasa (Moi International Airport) and Eldoret in the Rift Valley Province.


The country’s hilly topography is a major obstacle to the development of a functioning transport network. In 2010, there were 65,700 km of road, of which 5,500 were paved. The railway network covers 850 km. Three lines serve the capital, while a fourth line links Fianarantsoa with the port city of Manakara.

Madagascar Emoji Flag

Air traffic is of great importance to the country and well developed. Antananarivo has an international airport. Toamasina and Mahajanga are the most important port cities.


In Malawi there is a 770 km long railway network, of which 465 km is part of the Salima – Beira line in Mozambique. Traditionally, this has been Malawi’s most important transport route for export and import. However, the guerrilla war in Mozambique during the 1980’s meant that the line was completely closed in 1984, which meant that Malawi was forced to use transport routes through Zimbabwe and South Africa. This meant significantly increased transport costs. The line was reopened in 1989, but it is in great need of maintenance.

Malawi Emoji Flag

The road network, which covers a total of 15 400 km, is continuously being improved. In the first place, work is focused on Kamuzu Highway along Lake Malawi, which will facilitate transport between the country’s northern and southern parts. This should then be followed by improved cross-links and roads to more remote parts of the country.

Malawi has Lilongwe International Airport and four domestic traffic airports.


The road network, which comprises a total of 2 100 km, is of good quality. It consists of 33 km of motorway and 840 km of main roads and is 90% paved.

Mauritius Emoji flag

Mauritius’ largest port is in Port Louis and the international airport at Plaisance on the southeastern part of the island of Mauritius.

In order to establish direct telephone connections and to receive international television programs, a satellite communication reception station has been installed.


The 4,800 km long railway network plays a dominant role in Mozambique’s transport system. The main routes go from Maputo to South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, and from Beira to Zimbabwe and Malawi; normally the country receives a large portion of its income from fees for such transit traffic.

Mozambique Emoji flag

The road network is poorly developed and largely oriented from the coast towards the neighboring countries and therefore does not respond well to the country’s own transport needs. In 2010, the road network comprised a total of 30 400 km of roads of varying quality. The situation in the country has in the past almost made it impossible for road transport without a military license.

The country’s largest ports are Maputo, which is also Africa’s second largest port, Beira, Nacala and Quelimane. The country has a total of 20 airports, seven of which are classified as international.


Most of the transport and passenger traffic in Rwanda takes place on the well-developed road network (total length 14,000 km). Rwanda is connected to neighboring countries by paved roads. There is no railway, and water transport only occurs on Lake Kivus.

Rwanda Emoji Flag

About 80 percent of foreign trade goes through Uganda, Kenya (mainly Mombasa) and Tanzania. A rail link between Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania has been discussed. International airports are located at Kigali and Kamembe.


Somalia has a poorly developed transport network. In 2009, the road network covered 22 100 km, of which the roads Mogadishu – Beledweyne – Garoowe – Burco to Berbera and Hargeysa and Garoowe – Boosaaso are important. Beledweyne – Garoowe was built with extensive Chinese work in the 1970’s. During the 1980’s, a great deal of effort was put into developing the road network in the southern parts of the country. Somalia lacks rail.

Somalia Emoji Flag

During the 1980’s, the port facilities were rebuilt in Mogadishu and Kismayu. Berbera, which has been a Russian and US military base, has a modern port facility and airport. The civil war makes it difficult for foreign trade, partly because both the port and the airfield in Mogadishu have occasionally been closed as a result of the uncertain conditions. New ports, such as Boosaaso in the north, and airports, such as Merca south of Mogadishu, have partially replaced Mogadishu. A large part of foreign trade is now routed via Dijbouti and Kenya.

Since 1996, the European Development Fund and the EU have supported a project to improve infrastructure in northern Somalia and in peaceful regions in the south.


The deep sea in Victoria serves more than 900 vessels annually and is of central importance to the country’s foreign trade. The Seychelles have regular boat connections with Mombasa (Kenya). The international airport outside Victoria can be reached by direct flights from eg. London, Frankfurt, Singapore and Kenya. The national airline, Air Seychelles, operates the islands of Mahé, Praslin, Frégate, Bird Island, Denis Island and Desroches. In 2010, the road network was 500 km, and it is concentrated to the main island of Mahé.

Seychelles Emoji Flag


The population distribution in Tanzania causes major transport problems. In 2010, there were 86,500 km of roads, of which 17,730 km were main roads. Only about 3,000 km of the road network are permanently paved, and many roads are impassable during the rainy season. Lack of maintenance due to the country’s economic problems led to a further deterioration of the standard in many ways in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Therefore, with the support of the World Bank, a major five-year road improvement program was initiated in 1991.

Tanzania Emoji flag

In Tanzania, there are approximately 3,700 km of narrow gauge railway (gauge 1000 mm) and the TANZAM railway (gauge 1,067 mm), which connect Tanzania and Zambia. This is 1,860 km, of which 969 km is in Tanzania. Again, due to lack of maintenance, none of the full capacity rail systems operate, but with the support of Canada and the USA, among other things, an improvement program has been initiated.

International deep ports can be found in Dar es-Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara. Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika also have ferry connections with neighboring countries. International airports are located in Dar es-Salaam, at Kilimanjaro and at Zanzibar.


The country’s transport network has been overhauled since the early 1970’s, but extensive repairs are underway with the aid of aid. Especially the Ugandan parts of a road project that will link Congo (Kinshasa), Rwanda and Uganda with Mombasa in Kenya (80 percent of Uganda’s foreign trade is via Mombasa).

Uganda Emoji flag

In 2010, the narrow-gauge (1,000 mm) railway network covered 1,200 km and the road network 16,700 km, of which 16 per cent was permanently covered. International airport is located in Entebbe. There is also some ferry traffic on Lake Victoria.


The distribution of population and business in the country is reflected in the fact that the transport network is the most developed in the western parts. In total there were 91 400 km of roads in 2009. Of these, 5 510 km were permanently paved primary roads. The main roads are the Great North Road, which runs from Livingstone across Lusaka through the Copperbelt Province and on to the Congo (Kinshasa), and the Great East Road, which runs from Lusaka to Malawi.

Zambia Emoji flag

The rail network covered 2,200 km, which includes 891 km of the TANZAM railway, which opened in 1975 and links Tanzania and Zambia with a total line length of 1,869 km. However, the country’s most important railway line is the so-called Line of Rail, which, through Zimbabwe and Botswana over Livingstone and Lusaka, links the major production areas of the Copperbelt province with South Africa.

International Airport is located in Lusaka.


Compared to many other African countries, the country has a relatively well-developed transport system. In 2009, the road network covered a total of 97,300 km, of which about 10 percent was paved. The railway network covered 3,400 km, of which 313 km were electrified. In view of the country’s lack of its own port, the railways are the main transport routes for imports and exports. The most important lines are Harare-Mutare-Beira (Mozambique), Harare-Bulawayo-Francistown (Botswana) and Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and Gweru-Maputo (Mozambique). A line from Messina in South Africa joins Rutenga to the Gweru-Maputo line.

Zimbabwe Emoji Flag

Domestic flights tie together most of the major cities. International airports are located in Harare and Bulawayo. The maintenance of airports and aircraft has lagged considerably.