(2017/Ongoing) Consisting of ten highways running through the large majority of its countries, the Trans-African Highway is a road network that spans across 56,000 kilometres of the African continent. Or at least that's been the vision since the 1970's.
Depending on where you might find yourself on it, the highway is in various states of completion, incompletion, or non-existence. Though it has been kept high on the list of priorities by the African Union, roughly one fifth of the network remains unfinished.
Things have been stop-start since its conception with a number of determined yet failed attempts to bring the project, which is envisioned as a means to uniting and strengthening the economic progress of Africa, to completion.
It is however unity and economy that has been the very thing stifling the project. While some countries like Kenya, Nigeria or Algeria have been successful in implementing and expanding their own parts of the grander plan, others like DRC or Chad have barely been able to get it past the point of being a dirt road. Internal problems such as conflict, lack of funding or having more pressing priorities on the national agenda have made giving the highway the attention it demands an impossibility.
This conflict between national interest and continental necessity acts as an interesting metaphor. As I see it, the state of the highway stands as a physical representation of the history, struggle, success, determination and potential of the continent since its liberation from colonial rule. The communities and economies around the highway both define and are defined by the state that it might be in in any given portion. The potential for growth that the highway offers to those who still do not have it is held back by hinderance of development within that region. Those who have reached the point where they could implement the project have reaped the rewards many times over. It's a telling feedback loop.
The photos compiled in the this series, portraying the people and communities I have encountered along the path of the highway, form the beginnings of a visual representation of this idea.