Numerous projects are under way both for freight and passenger lines, also high-speed ones. Urban networks are growing too, but realization of the works is suffering from the political instability that has been sweeping the area over the last couple of years.
The fact that Africa is the market of the future for the railway sector, as many analysts have frequently maintained, is confirmed by the very recent mega-contract signed by Alstom in South Africa: 4 billion euros for 600 passenger trains to be delivered between 2015 and 2025. South Africa certainly has a railway infrastructure more similar to that of European countries than to that of most of the other African nations, but there is now a clear increase in interest and – where economic conditions allow – in investments. And the North African countries, in particular those overlooking the Mediterranean, have in recent years adopted a policy in this respect, which is beginning to bear fruit. Undoubtedly, the political instability characterising the region has greatly slowed down this process. The events that have brought the area to the front pages of all the newspapers since December 2010, collectively called the “Arab Spring” by the western media, have had very different impacts: a violent revolt overthrew Gaddafi’s forty-year regime in Libya, but the country is now in the grip of strong instability, and in Egypt, when President Mubarak was deposed, elections followed that were won by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement, but the government, led by their leader Mohammed Morsi, was removed by the military in July of this year and the country is awaiting new elections, presumably in the spring of next year. Popular protests in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, on the other hand, have not led to substantial changes in the political and institutional order in these countries, where projects regarding new railways and tramways have continued without great setbacks.
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