From the purchase of raw materials to the delivery of the final product, the entire operations of transport link between coastal countries to hinterlands is integrated into one network. Finished goods as well as raw materials and semi-finished products continually cross borders during the production process particularly as it relates to inland and landlocked counties.

These factors place ports in a strategic position. They are key links in maritime transport because they are the departure and arrival points of maritime transport and are the interface between the port and the hinterland interfacing different modes of transport.

The African development Report 2010 states that “a port is only as good, and its development only as viable, as the transport networks linking (connecting) the ports to centres of production and consumption (the hinterland)” this assertion shows that port-hinterland connectivity interdependency is beginning to change the definition of port productivity and efficiency also because rail and road transport modes impact the determination of cost of goods. Experts assert that “in order for trade to continue growing in the future, port-hinterland connectivity must become a part of port strategy, planning and management”.

Considering Africa’s large land mass where 15 out of her 54 countries are landlocked (SIPRI 2015), land transport plays a very specific and important role in the economic development of nations because trading requires fast and safe transport. While the ports have major impact to the economic development of coastal countries, port-hinterland connectivity has huge impact on the economics of the hinterlands.

In this sense, Africa’s hinterlands are at economic disadvantages where port-hinterland connectivity is inefficient. If this is the case, an efficient system of transportation characterized by Speed, safety, delivery reliability and frequency is essential in the economic development of African states.

The IAPH Abuja 2018 conference will study the interdependent linkage between a port and the hinterlands in the context of Africa where ports are facing serious challenges with providing even the traditional land-sea interface infrastructure, then explore how best Africa can learn from global experiences and design local solutions to effectively create a smooth and efficient connectivity between its ports and their hinterlands.

To undertake this exercise, the following questions need to be posed for answers to be explored:

I. How adequate is Africa’s port infrastructure in response to contemporary trends of increasing ship size and cargo volumes?
II. What is the present state of Africa’s transport infrastructure (road, rail, inland water, pipeline networks) linking the hinterland to its ports?
III. To what extent have Africa’s ports evolved from the traditional provision of basic infrastructure to developing inland facilities for improved port hinterland connectivity?
IV. Given that most of Africa’s industrial and consumption hinterlands are located within the port cities and regions, is railway network a viable investment for hinterland connectivity?
V. In the face of near 100% dependence on road transportation and congested port cities, what options are available to African ports to improve connectivity to the hinterland?