Trans-Sahelian Highway

Trans-Sahelian Highway
Dakar-Ndjamena Highway Map.PNG

The Trans-Sahelian Highway or Trans-Sahel Highway is a transnational highway project to pave, improve and ease border formalities on a highway route through the southern fringes of the Sahel region in West Africa between Dakar, Senegal in the west and Ndjamena, Chad, in the east. Alternative names for the highway are the Dakar-Ndjamena Highway or Ndjamena-Dakar Highway and it is Trans-African Highway 5 in the Trans-African Highway network.

The highway passes though seven countries and five national capitals, and links regions of similar climate and environment which have cultural and trade links going back centuries. It is one of two east-west transnational links in West Africa and runs inland from and, for most of its length, roughly parallel to the Trans–West African Coastal Highway with a separation of about 900 km.


Route and status

Overall features, length and condition

The Trans-Sahelian Highway has a length of about 4500 km running through Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, and the far northern tip of Cameroon, ending at Ndjamena just inside the western border of Chad. All but about 775 km, mostly in western Mali, has been paved, but extensive sections elsewhere require rehabilitation or are currently under reconstruction. Most of the route uses existing national highways, but an optional route requires construction of a completely new road between Senegal and Mali.

Detail of sections

The cities and countries served, and status of the road are as follows (going east):

  • In Senegal, Dakar to Tambacounda, 462 km, paved, 315 km in poor condition; this road has been paved for several decades.
  • Linking Senegal and Mali between Tambacounda and Bamako, two options were proposed in the 2003 consultants' report:
    • a shorter more direct southern route via Saraya and Kita, about 825 km, using about 300 km of road paved in the 1990s of which most was in good condition, and requiring construction of 345 km of new road and the paving of 180 km of earth road;
    • a longer northern route of about 910 km via Kayes, Diéma and Didjeni, utilising national roads of Mali which are paved.
  • In south-eastern Mail, Bamako to Sikasso via Bougouni, 374 km, paved before 1990 and in fair condition.
  • Sikasso to Koloko at the Burkina Faso border, paved and in fair condition.
  • Burkina Faso section: 862 km via Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouagadougou, Koupéla, and Fada Ngourma, paved and in good condition except for 120 km paved section before the Niger border, due to be rehabilitated in 2003-5;
  • Niger section: 837 km of which 600 km was in poor condition, via Niamey, Dosso, Dogondoutchi, Birnin-Konni and Maradi to the Nigerian border at Jibiya.
  • Nigeria section: 972 km, all paved and in fair condition, via Katsina, Kano, Kari, Maiduguri and Dikwa.
  • The short Cameroon section consists of an 85 km unpaved gravel road from the Nigerian border to Maltam which is impassable in the wet season; as this road is not used by local traffic to any extent, Cameroon has no plans to upgrade it. The 25 km section from Maltam to Kousseri at the Chad border is paved and is used mainly by Chadian traffic.
  • Chad: the highway runs only a few kilometres into Chad, to the outskirts of the capital Ndjamena which is situated on the eastern banks of the Logone and Chari Rivers which form the Cameroon-Chad border.

Alternative routes at the eastern end:

  • the alternative to the unpaved section through Cameroon is a route which adds about 200 km on paved roads via Bama in Nigeria and Mora and Waza in Cameroon.
  • an alternative route of about 1400 km between Niger and Chad, by-passing Nigeria, will be possible when a proposed new road around the north and east of Lake Chad is built connecting Ndjamena to Nguigmi which is about 60 km inside Niger. Nguigmi is connected by a paved road via Zinder to Maradi where it meets the Trans-Sahelian Highway.

Links to other transnational highways

The Trans-Sahelian Highway intersects with the following Trans-African Highways:

The northern regions of Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, and Benin are close to the Trans-Sahelian Highway, which may be used to by travellers between those regions in preference to the Trans–West African Coastal Highway further south. Paved roads connect the Trans-Sahelian and West African Coastal Highways through

  • Côte d'Ivoire (Sikassa or Bobo-Dioulasso to Yamoussoukro)
  • Ghana (Ouagadougou to Accra)
  • Togo (Koupela to Lomé)
  • Benin (Dosso to Cotonou)
  • Nigeria (Birnin-Konni or Kano to Lagos).

See also


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.