National Transport Infrastructure Planning in Islamic Countries

Date: 2018

Client: COMCEC

Transport accounts for 2-11% of GDP worldwide and is one of the prime economic sectors. The efficient management of the transport sector by government therefore needs to be addressed appropriately. The importance of transport infrastructure development should not be underestimated and better planning is naturally the first step to achieve a better performance of the transportation system, which will in turn contribute to the economic and social development of the nations. Furthrmore, the effective planning of the national transport infrastructure (NTI) will eliminate wasteful government spending on the transport infrastructure.


COMCEC (Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation) Coordination Office – CCO (Ministry of Development of the Republic of Turkey) recognised the importance of planning of NTI in the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) Member States. For this, the CCO asked Fimotions to conduct an analytical study regarding this crucial topic. As one of the four Standing Committees of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), COMCEC serves as a central Forum to address the common development problems of the Islamic countries and provide solutions to them. OIC has 57 Member States in the Arab, Asian, and African regions.

NTI planning…a complex process

NTI planning, being a complex process with multiple interdependencies, has many aspects, elements and options. It consists of policies, goals, objectives, programmes and sets of projects that together provide the planning framework. Within this planning framework, individual projects go through the process of identification, selection, appraisal and approval.

The plans that are commonly used are such as national development plans, national infrastructure plans, national transport (master) plans, investment plans and programs, regional transportation plans and white papers.

NTI Planning is facing a paradigm shift in thinking from more transport to less transport, from big planning to smart planning, from ‘on way’ to ‘online’…These all impact on the future in general and in the forecasting of demand for transport infrastructure. Last but not least, a shift in thinking of NTI planning from being a list of infrastructure projects that maximise mobility to a more thematic set of the objectives that emphasise outcomes that aim to decouple transport from the economy aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals. 

NTI planning aspects in Islamic countries

One of the outputs of the Study is a description of the general situation related to the NTI planning in Islamic countries. This was being developed for seven planning aspects (political and legislation, institutional and organisational, technical factors, procedure and financing, content of NTI plans, data collection method, and monitoring and evaluation). 

One of the most important findings is related to the planning horizon. Unlike in Africa and the Middle East, the Islamic countries in the Asian region tend to not having a long-term national transport master plan. The transport infrastructure development planning in Asia is included in a medium-term plan that covers all types of infrastructure, not only transport. The advantage of a medium term plan is that the planning and implementation can be undertaken in a well structured and consequent way. Long term planning horizons might constitute a problem for developing countries as their available capacities are limited.

The current NTI planning practices in the Islamic countries described in this study was not only developed based on a literature review and desk research, but also on a questionnaire survey in which 23 OIC Member States have participated.

Policy recommendations

Although it is not suggested that NTI planning problems or solutions are the same for all OIC countries, this study came up with policy recommendations to consolidate the results of the analysis and provide some specific suggestions towards improving NTI planning. Just like in the analysis section, the policy recommendations were also developed for seven planning aspects. Some of them are:

  • A national transport policy needs to be developed before developing a national transport plan in order to provide a strategic direction towards common objective and goals to be followed by sectoral plans and programs.
  • Transport planning agencies should exist and must be multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral to apply a holistic approach, to ensure integration between modes of transport and adequately cover cross cutting issues.
  • NTI plans should integrate land use planning and multi-modal transport planning.

You can read the other policy recommendations along with extensive analyses in the final report of the study by following this link. Fimotions presented this study at the 12th Meeting of COMCEC Transport and Communications Working Group on October 11th, 2018 in Ankara, Turkey. If you are interested in our presentations or other presentations given in this meeting, you can visit the website of COMCEC.

Should you have questions regarding this project, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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