Rural Transport

Movement of people and goods by motorcycle taxi has increased exponentially in sub-Saharan Africa over the last two decades or so. The penetration of motorcycle taxis deep into isolated rural communities has spread spontaneously and created direct and indirect employment opportunities for millions of often marginalised youth. Equally important, it has significantly contributed to lifting smallholder farmers out of poverty by reducing the costs of moving produce to markets, and provided villagers with better access to health and educational facilities.

Upgrading rural footpaths to motorcycle taxi accessible tracks

Despite its contribution to rural and agrarian development, state actors and international donors remain reluctant to support the motorcycle taxi sector. However, upgrading rural footpaths to motorcycle taxi accessible tracks is a simple and cheap way to drastically improve accessibility where conventional, but expensive, construction/ rehabilitation of rural roads accessible to four-wheeled vehicles, is not feasible or cost-effective.

  • Upgrading rural footpaths to motorcycle taxi accessible tracks improves access.
  • Improved access accelerates market integration for peasant farmers in Africa.
  • Motorcycle taxis improve access to health and education for rural dwellers.
  • Track construction is a low cost intervention, using local materials and labour.
  • Tracks allow for expansion of the motorcycle taxi sector, providing further jobs.

Track Construction Manual

We received funding from the ESRC/UKRI to put together an upgrading footpaths to motorcycle taxi accessible tracks’ construction and maintenance manual. This manual address both the technical/engineering challenges as well as the social and environmental challenges. More information here.

Publications on the impact of rural motorcycle taxi tracks

JENKINS, J., PETERS, K. & RICHARDS, P. 2020. At the End of the Feeder Road: assessing the Socio-economic Impact of Upgrading Rural Footpaths to Motorcycle Taxi-Accessible Tracks in Liberia.  NJAS – Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences. Vol. 92, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.njas.2020.100333

Policy Brief (2018): Upgrading Footpaths to Motorcycle Taxi accessible Tracks: Accelerating Socio-economic Development in rural Sub-Saharan Africa

JENKINS, J. & PETERS, K. 2016. “Improving Rural Connectivity in Africa with Motorcycle Tracks” in ICE Transport, Special Issue: Transport and Global Poverty. Vol. 169 (6) pp. 378386 https://doi.org/10.1680/jtran.15.00080

Media sources

Driving Progress. Motorcycle Taxis in Liberia (2020). Swansea University Research Highlights. https://www.swansea.ac.uk/research/research-highlights/culture-communication-heritage/motorcycle-taxis-in-liberia/

Motorcycle taxis – the fast track to prosperity for Liberian villages (January 2019) https://esrc.ukri.org/news-events-and-publications/news/news-items/motorcycle-taxis-the-fast-track-to-prosperity-for-liberian-villages/

At the end of the feeder road: assessing the impact of track construction for motorbike taxis on agrarian development in Liberia (The Impact Initiative) http://www.theimpactinitiative.net/project/end-feeder-road-assessing-impact-track-construction-motorbike-taxis-agrarian-development

Improving rural lives through the Liberian motorbike boom (PDF, The Impact Initiative) https://opendocs.ids.ac.uk/opendocs/bitstream/handle/123456789/13434/Liberia_Motorbike_Boom.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y