DP15354 Priority Roads: the Political Economy of Africa's Interior-to-Coast Roads
|Author(s):||Roberto Bonfatti, Yuan Gu, Steven Poelhekke|
|Publication Date:||October 2020|
|Keyword(s):||democracy, Development, infrastructure, Natural resources, political economy|
|JEL(s):||D72, H54, O18, P16, P26, Q32|
|Programme Areas:||International Trade and Regional Economics, Development Economics|
|Link to this Page:||cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15354|
Africa's interior-to-coast roads are well placed to export natural resources, but not to support regional trade. Are they the optimal response to geography and comparative advantage, or the result of suboptimal political distortions? We investigate the political determinants of road paving in West Africa in 1965-2014. Controlling for geography and comparative advantage, we find that autocracies focused more than democracies on connecting metal and mineral deposits to ports, resulting in more interior-to-coast networks. This deposit-to-port bias was only present for deposits located on the elite's ethnic homeland, suggesting that Africa's interior-to-coast roads were the result of ethnic favoritism by autocracies.