On the Political Effects of Transportation Infrastructure

A comparison of road conditions in Rwanda and Mali—the former an autocracy with sterling roads, the latter a democracy where poor road conditions reveal a deep divide in the country.

"That good roads have a positive economic effect [pdf] seems like a no-brainer," writes Christian Caryl. The crux, however, of Caryl's think-piece, however, is that we often fail to compare the political effects of good roads.

Case in point: the perfect conditions of the roads in Rwanda, a country governed by autocracy.

"In Rwanda, decent roads stand for the official commitment to provide everyone with equal access to the fruits of development -- concrete evidence, if you will, of the determination to overcome the ethnic divides that led the country into mass slaughter just two decades ago."

Caryl compares that to the condition of a 250-mile dirt road that separates two of the main cities in Mali, a country torn apart by rebellion two years ago but now governed by a democracy.

Full Story: The Political Magic of Roads


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