Road Rapid: a real boon to infrastructure in Africa
In the rainy season, Africa's dirt roads become a major transportation headache. Dutch firm OSO Enschede decided to devise a solution. For the past few years, it has been working on Road Rapid, an affordable, efficient and sustainable way to improve dirt roads and make them water-repellent, thus keeping them passable all year long.
"Road Rapid is a method to harden pretreated dirt roads and make them water-resistant," OSO Enschede CEO Jan Koopmans explains. "It is an innovative and environmentally friendly product that is first diluted in water and then used to cover the road surface. The surface is hardened through a chemical reaction with the clay in the soil, among other things. This makes the road passable even for heavy goods vehicles." Thanks to support from the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), OSO Enschede was able to expand into Tanzania.
Dirt tracks are commonplace throughout Africa. In the rainy season, many vehicles become stuck in the mud. Koopmans: "As a result, crops do not reach the markets in the cities on time, so many products have to be imported from abroad. This is expensive and also a waste, since the soil in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular is highly fertile."
More opportunities for employment
The advantages offered by Road Rapid are clear. "Local road builders can use the product in combination with their existing machines and equipment," Koopmans says. "This results in more opportunities for employment in the road building industry. However, Road Rapid also promotes increased employment in a more indirect way. For one thing, improving access to rural areas provides a boost to the local economy. Its low price is another advantage. Compared to asphalt, Road Rapid represents a saving of up to 90 per cent."
Test road in Tanzania
Road Rapid has already been introduced successfully in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. An earlier OSO project in Senegal won the SGS INTRON award for Best Project of the Year. Koopmans: "We have now expanded into the north-west of Tanzania, not far from Lake Victoria. We have built a test road to demonstrate the effectiveness of Road Rapid under local circumstances to the Tanzanian government. In June, this road will be officially opened in the presence of the Dutch ambassador, as well as officials and government ministers from Tanzania and possibly from other countries in the region.”
Dutch Good Growth Fund
OSO Enschede was able to build the test road thanks to a grant from The Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF), a programme of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) in partnership with Atradius DSB and PwC Netherlands that was commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "We could not have done this without the DGGF. Hopefully, this is the first in a series of new projects in East Africa. This would allow all of us to reap the benefits of our joint investment."