In October 1990 when Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) troops poured over the border from Uganda, the Zairian (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo or DRC) President Mobutu Sese Seko, scoffed that the Rwandan President Habyarimana, never should have built a road to his house (or country). Fast forward to 2016, and the DRC still has less than 3,000 km of paved roads in the country. Algeria in Africa, a similar sized country, boasts more than 70,000 km of paved roads.
With a lack of investment in infrastructure, some of the major connecting roads are mere dirt roads that turn into mud tracks and puddles during the rainy season. Trucks often breakdown and the estimated time of arrival (ETA) is often determined in days, rather than hours. In other infrastructure starved countries such as South Sudan, Congolese drivers are in great demand. As one logistician put it to me diplomatically in Juba, “they are respected for their ability to negotiate difficult terrain and operate in an environment where spare parts aren’t always readily available.”
Published Strategic Marketing Africa Q2 2016