Spatial Inefficiencies in Africa's Trade Network
NBER Working Paper No. 25951
I assess the efficiency of transport networks for every country in Africa. Using rich spatial data, I simulate trade flows over more than 70,000 links covering the entire continent. I maximise over the space of networks and find the optimal road system for every African state. My simulations predict that Africa would gain 1.1% of total welfare from better organising its national road systems. I then construct a novel dataset of local network inefficiency and I find that colonial infrastructure projects significantly skew trade networks towards a sub-optimal equilibrium. I also find evidence for regional favouritism and inefficient aid provision.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25951