Transport is a crucial driver of economic and social development, bringing opportunities for the poor and enabling economies to be more competitive. Transport infrastructure connects people to jobs, education, and health services; it enables the supply of goods and services around the world; and allows people to interact and generate the knowledge and solutions that foster long-term growth. Rural roads, for example, can help prevent maternal deaths through timely access to childbirth-related care, boost girls’ enrolment in school, and increase and diversify farmers’ income by connecting them to markets.

Although the sector is crucial to reducing poverty, boosting prosperity and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, transport is also at the heart of critical development challenges:

  • Climate change: Transport accounts for about 60% of global oil consumption, 27% of all energy use, and 23% of world CO2 emissions. With motorization rates on the rise, that share is expected to grow dramatically.
  • Rapid urbanization and motorization: Cities are expected to hold 5.2 billion residents by 2050. Over the next 20 years, more cars may be built than in the auto industry’s 110-year history.
  • Accessibility and affordability:  An estimated one billion people in low-income countries still lack access to an all-weather road. In many cities, time lost to congestion erodes prosperity. High mobility costs cut the disposable income of the poor who often lack reliable and affordable public transportation.
  • Air pollution and road safety: More than 1.2 million people are killed and up to 50 million are injured on the world’s roads every year. Low and middle-income countries account for 90 percent of the deaths although they own just half the world’s motor vehicles. Urban air pollution, largely linked to transport, also kills an estimated 800,000 people each year.

As the developing world rapidly urbanizes, there is an opportunity to build safer, cleaner and more efficient and accessible transport systems that reduce congestion and pollution, facilitate access to jobs and lower transport energy consumption. In emerging mid-size cities, where most of the new urban dwellers will live, city planners have an opportunity to design sustainable and inclusive transport systems from the start, leapfrogging more polluting and costly modes. In older or larger cities, technology and data management is helping better map travel patterns and users’ needs, engaging citizens and improving the quality and efficiency of transport solutions.

Last Updated: Apr 07, 2016

The World Bank’s strategy in the transport sector, and companion business plan for the next three years (2016-18), aims to facilitate the movement of people, goods and ideas in developing countries by focusing on mobility solutions that provide greater access, efficiency and safety, all in a climate-friendly way.

World Bank transport commitments (IBRD/IDA) in fiscal year 2015 (FY15) amounted to US$5.4 billion. Furthermore, in FY15, there were 197 active Bank projects with total net commitments of US$41 billion, representing 21 percent of the Bank’s total lending portfolio.

In FY15, IFC committed $585 million in transportation and logistics, and mobilized another $253 million from third-party investors. Overall, IFC has a $3 billion portfolio of transportation investments covering ports, airports, railways, canals and other sectors. And FY15 MIGA guarantees for transport projects totaled US$787.7 million.

Rural and inter-urban roads remain the largest sub-sector with 48 percent of lending in FY15 (US$2.6 billion). However, the transport sector has rebalanced its portfolio with more operations in urban transport, road safety, aviation, ports, and railways, including projects that aim to improve trade competitiveness. Urban transport is a growing business for the Bank, increasing its financing share from 10 percent ($893 million) in FY11 to 20 percent (US$1.1 billion) in FY15.

To achieve greater impact and results, the World Bank Group collaborates with multiple partners to tackle global challenges.

The World Bank-led Global Road Safety Facility, for example, is working with seven other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to harmonize road safety practices in client countries. The MDBs are committed to helping achieve the goals of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011–2020) which aims to save five million lives and avoid 50 million serious injuries by 2020.

The World Bank’s Africa region also hosts the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP) a partnership of 40 countries across all Africa (North and sub-Saharan), 8 regional economic communities, African institutions, the private sector and other development partners. Recent achievements include a framework for improving railway sector performance in Africa; guidelines for mainstreaming road safety in regional trade corridors; and transport governance indicators for sub-Saharan Africa.

Last Updated: Apr 07, 2016

In Senegal, the Dakar Diamniadio Toll Highway, inaugurated in August 2013, has already provided significant benefits to the Dakar metropolitan area, the country's economic heart. Travel times between downtown Dakar and Diamniadio were slashed from about 90 to 30 minutes, reducing the cost of congestion. The first toll road of its kind in Africa (outside South Africa), the project mobilized financing from IDA, IFC, AfDB and the French Agency for Development as well as the private sector in a public-private partnership that shows potential for replication elsewhere in the region. IDA took the lead on social issues to mitigate the impacts of resettling 4,500 households and 1,200 business units, and to rehabilitate the neighborhood crossed by the toll road, with a focus on flood protection.

A $20 million trade and transport project financed by IBRD facilitated the movement of freight between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and neighboring countries in South East Europe, removing selected border bottlenecks and improving the efficiency and quality of road and rail services along the Trans-European Transport Corridor. Waiting time for cars and buses at the Blace border crossing, for example, was brought down from an average 22 minutes in 2008 to 4.5 minutes in 2012. Freight train processing time dropped from 450 minutes to 90 minutes at rail corridor border stations, reducing rail traffic congestion and increasing the competitiveness of rail freight transport.

In India, the Mumbai Urban Transport Project took on the challenge of modernizing transport in an ever growing city. It increased the capacity of roads, buses and trains to keep up with urban migration. Modern traffic management systems were introduced to reduce congestion on Mumbai’s choked roads.   The project also provided over 19,000 families and shop owners access to permanent housing or commercial space and basic urban services.  

In Vietnam, a project reduced accident rates in project corridors by 36 percent and deaths by 61 percent, between 2005 and 2013. The project delivered 34,000 safety helmets to schools, completed a comprehensive national road safety campaign and trained 150 road engineers to act as Road Safety Auditors. In Argentina, a road safety project also contributed to saving lives: road crash fatalities declined by 12.5 percent in 2008-2011, even though the number of registered vehicles rose by 15 percent in the same period.

Last Updated: Apr 07, 2016

Transport 2 Stat
Number of additional cars on the world's roads by 2050
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