It was during the colonial era in Africa that the continent started building transport infrastructures. This was done in a bid to ease the movement of people, goods, and services. Thus, most of Africa’s major bridges have imputes from the imperial masters and some were started and completed by them. A good example is the Mozambique Dona Ana Bridge which was regarded as number one among the longest bridges in Africa as far back as 1934 when it was completed by the Portuguese imperial masters.
However, in recent times, we have seen even longer bridges crop up in other parts of Africa. First, Nigeria’s Third Mainland Bridge had pride of place as the longest bridge in Africa between 1990 and 1996 when it was overtaken by Egypt’s 6th October Bridge which is the current longest in the whole of the continent.
10. Katima Mulilo Bridge
- Country: Zambia
- Length: 900 meters-long
- Inauguration Date: 13th of May 2004
- Constructed By: Hochtief of Germany and Concor of South Africa
The tenth among the longest bridges in Africa is Katima Mulilo Bridge. Located in the south-central African country, Zambia, the 900-meter-long bridge spreads across the Zambezi River. According to the Namibian Bridge Register, it is known as Bridge 508 as well. Also, it serves as a boundary connecting Sesheke, Zambia, and Katima Mulilo, Namibia. Compared to the other African bridges mentioned on this list, the Katima Mulilo Bridge is quite young.
The contract for the construction of the bridge was awarded in 2002 in favor of two companies – Hochtief of Germany and Concor of South Africa both of which brought it to completion at the scheduled time in 2004. It was precisely on the 14th of May 2004 that the Zambian government opened the bridge for transportation.
9. Mkapa Bridge
- Country: Tanzania
- Length: 970 meters-long
- Inauguration Date: 2003
- Constructed By: Impresa Ing. Fortunato Federici S.p.A. (Italy)
The Mkapa Bridge in Tanzania comes in 9th place before the Katima Mulilo Bridge. Crossing over River Rufiji, it is a 970 meters-long bridge and the longest in Tanzania. Inaugurated in 2003, it was named after the third president of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa. The construction fund for the bridge was financed by OPEC, Kuwait Funds, and the Saudi Arabian Government through a loan of about $30 million.
The construction project for the Mkapa Bridge was undertaken by Impresa Ing. Fortunato Federici S.p.A. (Italy). Since its completion, the bridge has helped hugely in linking the southern region of Tanzania to other key areas of the country.
8. Wouri Bridge
- Country: Cameroon
- Length: 1.8 kilometers long
- Inauguration Date: The 1950s
- Constructed By: French Colonial Government
The Wouri Bridge is the only Cameroonian bridge on the list of the longest bridges in Africa. The 1.8 kilometers long bridge sits above the Wouri River and is the link between Duala and the port of Bonaberi. It was the French colonial government in Cameroon that constructed the bridge as far back as the 1950s. The Wouri Bridge which has lasted for over seven decades carries both rail and road traffic to the western side of Cameroon.
Initially, the bridge’s carrying capacity was 2,000 vehicles per day, however, after it underwent a major rehabilitation in 2004, it was equipped to support above 45,000 vehicles on a daily basis, creating monstrous traffic right at the doorway of Douala’s heart.
7. Qasr al-Nil Bridge
- Country: Egypt
- Length: 1. 932 kilometers
- Inauguration Date: 6th of June 1933
- Constructed By: Dorman Long & Co. Ltd
On the 7th position is Qasr al-Nil Bridge, crossing the River Nile (the longest river on Earth) and situated in Central Cairo, Egypt. The bridge is a connecting point between downtown Cairo, Gezira Island, as well as the Zamalek District. The Qasr al-Nil Bridge was constructed from pure steel with Ralph Anthony Freeman taking the credit for its design.
Before the construction of the Qasr al-Nil Bridge, the site previously housed the El Gezira Bridge that was constructed from 1869 to 1871; the building work was undertaken by Linant de Bellefonds with contributions from France’s Five-Lilles Company. King Fuad laid the foundation stone for the Qasr al-Nil Bridge on the 4th of February 1931. Following a couple of years of construction work carried out by Dorman Long & Co. Ltd, the bridge was inaugurated by King Fuad on the 6th of June 1933.
The bridge was not originally named Qasr al-Nil, it was called Khedive Ismail Bridge upon completion; the name came from Fuad’s father who was known as Khedive Isma’il Pasha. However, it was renamed in 1952 after the Egyptian Revolution; the renaming policy also affected other Egyptian buildings and bridges. The English translation of the Arabic words Qasr El Nil is Palace of the Nile. It is a 1. 932 kilometers long bridge
6. Armando Emilio Guebuza Bridge
- Country: Mozambique
- Length: 2.37 km
- Inauguration Date: 1st of August 2009
- Constructed By: Mota-Engil Soares da Costa
The Armando Emilio Guebuza Bridge crosses the Zambezi River and comes at the 6th slot on the list of longest bridges in Africa. The Bridge is located in Mozambique and was constructed to link two provinces – Zambezia and Sofala.
The Armando Emilio Guebuza Bridge took its name from the former president of the country, Armando Guebuza. Measuring 2.37 km in length and 16 meters in width. The bridge was designed by WSP Group and constructed by Mota-Engil Soares da Costa. It was inaugurated on the 1st of August 2009 and has been serving the population of Mozambique for almost 22 years and counting.
5. Dona Ana Bridge
- Country: Mozambique
- Length: 3.67-kilometre-long
- Inauguration Date: 1934
- Constructed By: The Portuguese Imperial Masters and designed by Edgar Cardoso
Mozambique is also credited as the country with the 5th longest bridge in Africa. Spanning the lower Zambezi River, the Dona Ana Bridge which was originally built as a railway bridge, runs between two Mozambican towns – Vila de Sena and Mutarara, effectively connecting both halves of the East African country. Originally, it was constructed as a railway bridge in a bid to connect the Moatize coal fields and Malawi to the port of Beira.
The bridge was completed as far back as 1934 when the African continent was still in the dark ages, and as of then, the 3.67-kilometer-long structure was regarded as the longest bridge in Africa. The Portuguese imperial masters take the credit for the construction of the Dona Ana Bridge at an estimated cost of £1.74 million and upon its completion; it eliminated the use of ferries to cross the sea. Consequently, vehicular traffic increased on the bridge.
During the 1980s when the Mozambican Civil War broke out, Dona Ana Bridge was rendered unusable but USAID came to the rescue with repairs and that was when they converted it from railway to a single-lane bridge meant for vehicle traffic. Though its location is not a primary highway, it provides commuters with an alternative road over the River Zambezi. The other options were the old road ferry at Caia that was far from reliable and the Tete Bridge.
In October 2006, it went under rehabilitation and was completely closed to vehicular movement. The rehabilitation entailed converting it back to a railway bridge and in 2009, it was completed and reopened. The pedestrian lane of the bridge used by more than 3,000 pedestrians on a daily basis underwent renovation in 2017.
4. Mozambique Island Bridge
- Country: Mozambique
- Length: 3.8 kilometers long
- Inauguration Date: 1969
- Constructed By: The Mozambique National Road Administration
The East African country – Mozambique owns the Mozambique Island Bridge. It is a connecting bridge between the Island of Mozambique (this was the former headquarters of the colonial Portuguese in East Africa) and the mainland. Spanning over the Indian Ocean, the bridge measures 3.8 kilometers long.
The history of the bridge’s construction started in 1962 when a tender was launched by the Mozambique government, proposing to construct a 3,390-meter bridge to link the Island of Mozambique to its mainland. It was eventually completed in 1969 and the Mozambique National Road Administration takes the credit for the construction, as well as the maintenance of the Bridge.
The Mozambique Island Bridge is a one-lane bridge that has served the country for many years; it was only in July 2004 that the government of Mozambique rehabilitated the bridge with a $9-million construction budget. It was without a lighting system until 2013 when the authorities deemed it necessary to install one.
3. Suez Canal Bridge
- Country: Egypt
- Length: 3.9 km distance-wise
- Inauguration Date: October 2001
- Constructed By: Kajima Corporation, Nippon Steel, and JFE Holdings
The longest bridges in Africa extend to include The Suez Canal Bridge located in Egypt. The bridge which occupies the number three slot crossed the canal at El-Qantara and connects the continent of Africa to Eurasia. Also known as the Mubarak Peace Bridge, Shohada 25 January Bridge, and Egyptian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, the Suez Canal is a key trading point for Egypt and the entire Africa.
Financial assistance for the construction of the bridge came from Japan and the construction company that executed the project is Kajima Corporation. The grant from Japan accounted for 60% of the cost of construction which is equivalent to 13.5 billion yen. Agreement for the grant was reached when then-President Hosni Mubarak visited Japan in March 1995; it was actually part of a larger project aimed at developing the Sinai Peninsula. The remaining 40% which is equivalent to 9 billion yen cost was borne by Egypt. Opened in October 2001, the bridge is owned by the Suez Canal Authority which also operates it.
Although it did not top the list of the longest bridges in Africa, the Suez Canal Bridge happens to be the highest bridge on the flat ground globally with a clearance of 70m, though it only spans 3.9 km distance-wise.
2. Third Mainland Bridge
- Country: Nigeria
- Length: 11.8 km in length
- Inauguration Date: 1990
- Constructed By: The Julius Berger Nigeria PLC
Before 1996, Nigeria’s Third Mainland Bridge was Africa’s pride, thanks to its rank as the 1st among the longest bridges in Africa. Inaugurated in 1990, the bridge reigned supreme for four years until the 6th October Bridge got completed, beating it into second place.
The location of Africa’s second-longest bridge is Lagos, the former capital city of Nigeria. It’s the longest of three distinct bridges connecting the Lagos Mainland to the Island. The other two are Carter Bridge and Eko Bridge. Stretching from Oworonshoki, the Third Mainland Bridge runs through the Oshodi-Apapa expressway, crossing Lagos Ibadan expressway to terminate at the Adeniji Adele Interchange which is located on the Lagos Island. We must also mention the bridge’s midway link, leading to Herbert Macaulay Way in Yaba.
Measuring around 11.8 km in length, the second-longest bridge on the African continent remains the pride of Nigeria and also the longest bridge in West Africa. The Julius Berger Nigeria PLC takes the credit for its construction that started in 1980 after the then president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Shehu Shagari commissioned it. However, it was during the military regime of President Ibrahim Babangida that it came to a completion in 1990.
On weekdays, the Lagos Third Mainland Bridge goes under very high vehicular traffic as a large population of the state commutes from the mainland to the Island and vice versa. The bridge serves residents in different parts of Lagos Ikeja, Ikorodu, Agboyi-Ketu, Oworonshoki, Isheri, Yaba, Gbagada, Oshodi, Maryland, and many more. Being an essential part of the daily life in Lagos, the Third Mainland Bridge needs constant renovation. It has also come to be viewed as a major Lagos icon as it offers commuters different views of the city – the University of Lagos Waterfront and Makoko, the Lagos Lagoon, as well as a shanty town sitting on the Lagos Lagoon.
1. 6th October Bridge
- Country: Egypt
- Length: 20.5 km long
- Inauguration Date: 1996
- Constructed By: Arab Contractor
After it was declared open in 1996, the 6th October Bridged toppled the Nigerian Third Mainland Bridge, claiming pride of place at the number one position among the longest bridges in Africa. Located in the capital city of Egypt Cairo, The 6th October Bridge nearly doubled the former record holder in length at 20.5 km long, while the Lagos Third Mainland Bridge only measured 11.8 km.
The bridge is constructed along the River Nile, forming an elevated highway, it crosses the Niles a couple of times and runs from the west bank suburbs, East via Gezira Island all the way to Downtown Cairo. Through the 6th October Bridge, commuters can easily access the Cairo International Airport coming from the city.
Construction work on the bridge commenced in 1969 and lasted for three decades. The current record holder for the longest bridge in Africa was completed in 1996 and according to the records; it has over 500,000 people crossing it daily. In the absence of any eventuality, commuters would spend 45 minutes crossing to the other side. What’s more, it offers tourists a beautiful opportunity to see those gigantic Egyptian churches and mosques from a brand new viewpoint.