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African Bus to Tackle African Roads

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

Roads in many parts of Africa are rough at best, and hostile to vehicles designed with smooth, flat highways in mind. Even in countries like South Africa, where modern highways are common, a quick turn off the smooth highway to visit many communities will mean tackling makeshift dirt roads. In these conditions, buses imported from Western Europe are at a disadvantage when they hit the bone-jarring reality of potholed roads.

In the West African country of Ivory Coast, a manufacturer has decided to tackle the problem head on by designing and manufacturing a long-distance passenger bus just for African conditions.

The engineering arm of the national transport company, Sotra (http://www.sotra.ci/sotraindustries.php) (http://www.sotra.ci/index.php?rub=act), decided it could save money and create a bus better suited to African conditions.

“We want the transfer of technology in Africa,” Mamadou Coulibaly, Sotra Industries director, told the BBC. “And we want to build our own buses with our specification.

“In Europe the technology is very sophisticated with lots of electronic devices. In Africa we don’t need this.

“We just need robust buses because our roads are not very well done like in Europe. This is an African design for Africa.”

The African bus has fewer seats than European ones, and it can pack 100 people inside. It is a successful formula that has now attracted orders from other African countries.

Three buses are already in operation and more are in the works on a production line. They are designed and made in the largest city, Abidjan, building on an existing chassis and engine base made by European truck company Iveco. Sotra plans to build 300 buses a year in three models: coach, urban and tourist.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Isaac Gueu, an Abidjan accountant, told the BBC. “It’ll help students to move about in more comfort.”

Not only is the accomplishment impressive as an example of made-in-Africa manufacturing, but it was also completed while the country was going through a civil war and political crisis.

Sotra is an experienced manufacturer, and built its reputation with reliable boat-buses (http://tinyurl.com/bot6fv) that ply the country’s lagoons.

Africa’s roads lag behind the rest of the world: In 1997, Africa (excluding South Africa) had 171,000 kilometres of paved roads — about 18 percent less than Poland, a country roughly the size of Zimbabwe. As efforts to complete the trans-African highways continue (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-African_Highway_network), the quality of existing roads is deteriorating. In 1992 about 17 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s primary roads were paved, but by 1998 the figure had fallen to 12 percent (World Bank). More than 80 percent of unpaved roads are only in fair condition and 85 per cent of rural feeder roads are in poor condition and cannot be used during the wet season. In Ethiopia, 70 percent of the population has no access to all-weather roads.

Africa also has an appalling road accident rate, mainly attributed to the use of minibuses and other makeshift buses. Each year the number of road deaths and disabilities due to road accidents rises. It is estimated if things carry on as they are, the number of yearly traffic deaths across the continent will reach 144,000 by 2020, a 144 percent increase on today’s deaths.

A properly designed bus is a safer option than trying to pack passengers into a tippy minibus.

On top of making road passenger travel safer and more comfortable, Sofra is creating jobs in Africa and reducing dependence on imports. Beholden to importing sophisticated goods from outside the continent, Africa’s wealth is spent to the benefit of others, and at the expense of high-value jobs at home.

Coulibaly is confident Sotra will reach its goal.

“We have been to school in Europe and we think that we are able today to build our own buses; there are no special difficulties,” he said.

In Nigeria, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited (INNOVEMCO) (http://innosongroup.com/ ) is, in collaboration with Chinese manufacturers, building a huge auto plant in Nnewi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nnewi) where a wide range of commercial and utility vehicles will be produced for the Nigerian market and some countries in West Africa.

Published: February 2009

Resources

  • Africar: A South African company making four-wheel drive vehicles. Websites: http://www.africarautomobiles.co.za/africar-home.htm
  • AfriGadget is a website dedicated to showcasing African ingenuity. A team of bloggers and readers contribute their pictures, videos and stories from around the continent. The stories of innovation are inspiring. It is a testament to Africans bending the little they have to their will, using creativity to overcome life’s challenges. Website: http://www.afrigadget.com/

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.

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ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022

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Energy-Efficient Wooden Houses are also Earthquake Safe

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

In Argentina, an innovative housing project has married good design with energy efficiency, earthquake resilience and the use of local materials and labour. As energy resources continue to be stretched around the global South, innovative building designs will be critical to the creation of sustainable housing for the future.

The happy mix of efficient modern design with affordable local materials and labour can be seen in three row houses designed and built by Buenos Aires-based Estudio BaBO (estudiobabo.com.ar) in the El Once neighbourhood in Villa La Angostura, Patagonia, southern Argentina.

The wooden houses are built in a Norwegian style. Estudio BaBO, founded in 2007, discovered that the Scandinavian nation’s housing traditions were well suited to the particular needs of the region and the local government.

The local government imposed a number of planning guidelines and restrictions that needed to be met to receive planning permission. This included creating row houses which must be made of wood – a plentiful local resource. They also had to be earthquake-safe since the region is seismically active and be able to withstand the heavy rains common to the region.

Looking around for the right guidance to tackle this brief, Estudio BaBO discovered SINTEF – Norway’s leading disseminator of research-based knowledge to the construction industry (http://www.sintef.no/home/Building-and-Infrastructure/). The Nordic nation has many wooden homes and also has similar environmental conditions and challenges to Patagonia – though its precipitation tends to fall as rain, rather than snow.

The black-painted homes look typically Norwegian, with a tasteful and clean design that does not clash with the forested surroundings. An air chamber has been created inside the homes’ walls allowing for constant ventilation of the wood, which prevents the wood from rotting and extends the life of the house. With the high rainfall of the region, wood is at risk of rotting if allowed to become damp. The air cavity also insulates the house, providing significant energy savings while keeping the interior warm and comfortable.

Adding to the energy efficiency of the design, the windows are double glazed and heat is also circulated through the floor – an efficient way to heat a home because heat rises.

To keep costs down and the project simple, the palette used for the homes is simple but attractive: black, white, wood and metal. The local wood is cypress and is painted black. The interior walls are all white and the floors are made from black granite on the ground floor and cypress wood parquet on the upper floor. The rest of the woodwork in the house is also made of cypress.

Using locally sourced materials also helps to keep costs down.

The project was initially conceived in 2009 and the houses were built in 2010-2011. While wood is plentiful in Patagonia, traditionally the use of wood in construction was rudimentary and local labour skill levels were low. This meant the design had to be simple and easy to build.

“Despite the profusion of wood as a material in the south of Argentina, the lack of specialized knowledge and of a specialized industry narrow its uses to isolated structural elements and interior and exterior finishes,” said one of the architects, Marit Haugen Stabell.

The three units of two-storey row houses each come with a living room, dining room, kitchen, toilet, two bedrooms and a laundry room. Each home also has an outdoor patio. The homes are designed to receive maximum natural light. Deploying this energy efficient design is considered unusual for Argentina and Estudio BaBO has set a new standard for sustainable housing in the country.

It looks like the CLF Houses could inspire others to look again at wood as a building material.

Resources

1) A story on how researchers are perfecting wooden home designs to withstand heavy earthquakes. Website:http://inhabitat.com/wooden-house-can-withstand-severe-earthquakes/

2) A website packed with photographs of wooden and other houses for inspiration and lesson learning. Website:http://www.trendir.com/house-design/wood_homes/

3) A step by step slideshow on how a Norwegian wooden house was re-built. Website:http://www.dwell.com/articles/norwegian-wood.html

4) Inspirational wooden home decorating ideas from across Scandinavia. Website:http://myscandinavianhome.blogspot.cz/

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

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10 Years Ago

It was 10 years ago this month that Southern Innovator‘s first issue launched in New York during the UN’s General Assembly week (UNGA). It focused on mobile phones and information technology for a reason: these connectivity transformations were re-shaping how people lived their lives, even in the poorest and remotest places on earth.

The content was based on global research, beginning in 2007, funded by the United Nations.

Southern Innovator Editor and Writer David South.

“What a tremendous magazine your team has produced! It’s a terrific tour de force of what is interesting, cutting edge and relevant in the global mobile/ICT space… This is great, engaging, relevant and topical stuff.” Rose Shuman, Founder & CEO, Open Mind and Question Box, Santa Monica, CA, U.S.A.

While Southern Innovator’s digital presence has been key to its success and global reach, the hard copy of the magazine was designed with special features. The magazine needed to be robust and able to stand a fair bit of abuse and hard wear. It needed to be easy to read in low light conditions. And it needed to look sharp and eye-catching to reach as wide an audience as possible.

“Beautiful, inspiring magazine from UNDP on South-South innovation. Heart is pumping adrenaline and admiration just reading it.”

New Branding and Website

In 2010, as we prepared to launch Southern Innovator, the branding and website for David South Consulting was re-visioned by Icelandic graphic designer and illustrator Sólveig Rolfsdóttir. David South Consulting has been working with clients around the world since 1991.

Graphic Designer and Illustrator: Sólveig Rolfsdóttir.

20 Years Ago

Over 20 Years Ago

Mongolia’s first web magazine, Ger, launched in September 1998. It was also the first web magazine for the United Nations.

“The transformation of Mongolia from a largely rural nomadic society of herdsmen to a community dominated by the increasingly ultra-globalized city of Ulan Bator, where almost a third of the population lives, is nothing short of astounding. The New Mongolia: From Gold Rush to Climate Change, Association for Asian Studies, Volume 18:3 (Winter 2013): Central Asia

Logo and graphic design: P. Davaa-Ochir.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

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Disaster Recovery, Ten Years After: The Gujarat, India Experience

By David SouthDevelopment Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY

In the past decade, there have been many devastating natural disasters, from Iran’s 2003 Bam earthquake and the Asian tsunami of 2004 to Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 and the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti in 2010. All of these events received extensive media attention and drew a large aid response. Those who track natural disasters have noticed a serious increase in frequency over the past decade (http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article26290.html).

But rapid aid and media attention do not necessarily lead to long-term recovery. More than a year after the earthquake in Haiti, pace of recovery remains slow. Numerous media stories highlighted the lack of progress.

For the people caught up in these tragedies, quickly returning to a normal life is paramount for psychological and physical health. But this is often the hardest part. Some countries do this well and others do not.

On January 26, 2001, an earthquake laid waste to a large region of the Indian state of Gujarat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_Gujarat_earthquake). Ten years later there is a remarkable recovery that has taken place. So how did they do it?

The 7.9-magnitude quake killed an estimated 20,000 people, injured 150,000, made a million homeless, and destroyed around 8,000 villages. It devastated the Kutch district capital, Bhuj, and other major towns.

In the decade since the earthquake, the state has averaged double-digit growth. Despite having only five percent of the country’s population, Gujarat racks up impressive economic achievements: it has a fifth of India’s exports and a sixth of its industrial production. It has a long-standing entrepreneurial culture based on trade. It can draw on a well-connected global diaspora that ensures a steady inflow of new thinking and investment. Members of this diaspora also contributed to the US $130 million in aid that poured into the region after the quake.

One of the factors contributing to the successful recovery is effective government action.

The disaster has been turned into an opportunity to jolt the region out of the “Middle Ages and into the modern world,” NGO worker Navin Prasad told the BBC.

All the media attention, support and cash at the time forced the Indian government to pay attention to a region it had ignored in the past.

The army came in to help with the emergency and the Indian government allocated US $2 billion to the reconstruction that followed.

Aid was used well and in the first two years many of the damaged villages were rebuilt. And not just rebuilt to what they were, but completely modernized. New houses were constructed to high standards, with more rooms and lots of light. They also came with running water and a toilet. New facilities like medical centres and communal areas were put in place.

The district capital of Bhuj was levelled in the earthquake. But new plans for the city were drafted in the following years. Now Bhuj has two new ring roads, a new airport, parks and shops. Streets were widened and new water and sewage works installed.

But along with the new infrastructure and plenty of cash, came something more important for the region’s long-term recovery: economic growth. The Indian government created tax-free zones drawing in private investment. An astonishing US $10 billion in private investment has come in with US $7 billion more to come, according to the BBC.

One miraculous turnaround is in the former tiny fishing port of Mundra. Prior to the earthquake, it sat in the middle of a salt marsh. It is now India’s largest private port and rivals Mumbai with its Mundra Port and Special Economic Zone (http://www.portofmundra.com/), incorporated in 2003. The Adani Group, a very large Indian private company with global interests (http://www.adanigroup.com/index.html), owns the port now worth US $7 billion, hiring many people once dependent on aid agencies for income.

The head of the Adani Foundation the charitable wing of the Adani Group, Sushma Oza, told the BBC how the company is spending its profits on further developing the area: “Our own budget for social development in this region is $6m a year, so you can imagine how we are trying to change the lives of people to live in a better way,” she said.

In the western portion of the state, in the administrative district of Kutch which is home to Bhuj, around 300 businesses have been established, including the Welspun towel factory (http://www.welspun.com/content.asp?Link=Y&SubmenuID=24). The biggest towel factory in the world, it was built in just nine months and makes 250,000 towels a day. An ambitious firm, it bought the British company Christy (http://www.christy-towels.com/), maker of the official Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship towels.

So why towels in Kutch? Welspun chairman Balkrishan Goenka laid down the incentives to the BBC: “There were no local taxes for the first five years and no excise duties. Nor were there indirect taxes to government – they were exempted for five years.”

“Those were the primary benefits,” he said. “More than that there was huge support from the local government so industry can come faster.”

Since the earthquake, 110,000 jobs have been created in Kutch alone. More importantly for the area’s future, it is has gone from neglected backwater to a significant pillar of the Indian economy.

Another driver of recovery was the growth of the dairy industry. The Bhuj dairy plant collapsed in the earthquake and was then rebuilt by the National Dairy Development Board (http://www.nddb.org/). The plant can now process 50,000 litres of milk a day and is run by the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (http://www.amul.com/organisation.html), India’s largest food products marketing organization. It has 2.9 million producer members and represents 15,322 village societies.

Not everyone has turned their lives around, however. Aid workers estimate thousands are still living in temporary shelters. They defecate in the open and few have clean water. Just getting two meals a day is a problem.

There are complaints about the landless and tenants not receiving the same help.

“Many are tribal, others are low-caste communities, some are Muslims – but they all have one thing in common: poverty,” Bharat Parmer, program coordinator for ActionAid International in Kutch, told Alertnet.

“A large number of these people were tenants and did not own land and so it has been much harder for them to claim their rights as rehabilitation was very much focused on home and land owners.”

But local authorities say rehabilitation schemes have been comprehensive, covering all those who were hit by the quake.

“I don’t think that there are people who did not get what they were due – there may be a rare case here and there but we have rehabilitated all that were in need,” said Gunvant Vaghela, the second-most senior civil servant in Kutch district.

Published: February 2011

Resources

1) How to activate support from the global technology community in a disaster. Website: http://crisiscommons.org/

2) UNICEF: Community-Based Disaster Preparedness Projects (CBDPs) in India have been helping communities restructure to survive when disaster strikes. Website: http://www.unicef.org.uk/campaigns

3) The US Government has extensive resources online on how to prepare for a wide variety of natural and man-made disasters. Website: http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/

4) The magazine Popular Mechanics has excellent resources on how anyone can prepare their family and community for disasters. Website: http://www.popularmechanics.com/survival/

5)  Telecoms Sans Frontiers: Focuses on providing communications in the first days after an emergency. Website: http://www.tsfi.org/

Associated Press

On the ground reporting from the Associated Press (AP) Archive: India: Earthquake Aftermath Update 

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

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Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsapril2008issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

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Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

More on disaster resilience here:

From southasiadisasters.net:

Southern Innovator in Southasiadisasters.net

Innovations In Green Economy: Top Three Agenda

Lima To Delhi: What Can Be Learned On Urban Resilience?

South–South Cooperation For Cities In Asia

A New House Kit for Slum Dwellers that is Safe and Easy to Build

Haiti Earthquake Prompts Tech Aid

Rebuilding After Chinese Earthquake: Beautiful Bamboo Homes

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2022