Freight Demand Modelling For Southern Africa: Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)


The Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM) was created by GAIN Group, and first initiated in 2010, to expand the methodology of the South African FDM™. Some initial results were first published in 2012 in the Journal for Transport and Supply Chain Management (JTSCM), in the article titled “Extending Freight Flow Modelling To Sub-Saharan Africa To Inform Infrastructure Investments – Trade Data Issues”  (https://jtscm.co.za/index.php/jtscm/article/view/60/56). Multiple iterations of the RAFM have been completed since, with the data in the latest version being 2021.

 

The RAFM is based on a methodology used to develop a similar very detailed model for South Africa. The South African Freight Demand Model™ (FDM™) has been developed and refined over the past 3 decades by GAIN Group. Its outputs include freight flows between 372 districts for 83 separate commodity groups for all land freight modes within the country's borders. The first full-scale version of the FDM™ was released in 2006 and has been updated annually since.

The RAFM was the first attempt to generate a uniform way in which to translate economic and trade data into reliable freight flows for 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and to initiate an understanding of trade flows in and between countries.

The 17 countries within the RAFM are:

 

Figure 1: A map of the countries included in the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)

 

Commodities

The RAFM uses economic and trade data to generate volumetric supply and demand tables for each country for a base year, a six and 30-year forecast for 66 commodity groupings (these groupings were created to be aligned with the SA FDM™ commodities). Tables 1, 2 and 3 below show the RAFM commodities related to agriculture, mining and manufacturing respectively.

 

Agriculture commodities

Table 1: Agricultural commodities included in the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)

RAFM Table 1

 

Mining commodities

Table 2: Mining commodities included in the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)

RAFM Table 2

 

Manufacturing commodities

Table 3: Manufacturing commodities included in the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)

RAFM Table 3

 

Geographic disaggregation

The countries are then further divided into 63 regions and origin-destination pairs assigned to regions based on trade data, population distribution and industry and port locations. Volumes are flowed over a pre-defined network along the shortest path or by weighting routes

The outputs of the model include volumetric flows in tonnes and tonne-kilometres for a base year, a six and 31-year forecast for 66 commodity groups in four flow typologies, namely domestic, import, export and intra-regional flows for each of the 17 Sub-Saharan African countries. Additional data on current and future corridor movements, port volumes and rail potential are also part of the outputs.

The regions within the RAFM countries are shown in Figure 2 below.

 RAFM Figure 2

 Figure 2: A map of the regions included in the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)

 

Defined multi-modal corridors in the region

Various corridors were incorporated and utilised for mapping origin-destination freight flows. The corridors in the RAFM are indicated in Figure 3 below.

RAFM Figure 3

Figure 3: A map of the corridors included in the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)

 

This enabled corridor profiles for each corridor. An example of a corridor profile for the Beira corridor is shown in Figure 4 below.

 RAFM Figure 4

Figure 4: A corridor profile for the Beira corridor enabled by the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)

 

An example visualisation of current freight (red) and 30-year future forecasted freight (black) flows is shown in Figure 5 below.

RAFM Figure 5

Figure 5: An illustrative map of current (red) and future (black) freight flows enabled by the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)

 

Country profiles were created for each country. An example of the country profile for Zimbabwe is shown in Figure 6 below.

 RAFM Figure 6

Figure 6: A country profile for Zimbabwe enabled by the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)

 

Each country’s freight corridors were also mapped and analysed. An example visualisation of freight corridors for Zimbabwe (base year volumes in red, and 30-year future volumes in black) is shown in Figure 7 below.

 RAFM Figure 7

Figure 7: An illustrative map of Zimbabwe's freight corridors enabled by the Regional Africa Freight Model (RAFM)