The Situation

A major part of transportation in Africa happens off the main roads. Existing systems of secondary roads are poorly maintained, if at all. Additionally, there are many gaps in the low-volume road systems; good gravel and earth roads are scarce. Low cost road building and maintenance are virtually non-existent. Therefore, transportation costs in sub-Saharan Africa (US$ 0.04 – 0.14 per kilometer per ton) are much higher than in other regions of the developing world (US$ 0.01 – 0.04 per kilometer per ton). This is true both for urban and rural areas.

The innovation

The German company Poetzsch Maschinenbau (Poema) has developed a sophisticated, yet very robust, technology for construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of low-volume unpaved secondary roads.

The unique stone crusher allows the use of any stony material, including old pavement and debris, thereby saving cost. No adhesive agents are needed, which is beneficial for the environment.

Rehabilitation of damaged roads

The POEMA system allows repairing and permanently rehabilitating roads even if they are heavily damaged. These repairs are not a mending patch but a rebuilt. Repaired roads get back their profile again, are as good as new and hold their shape for a long time

The curved profile guarantees that heavy rains would runoff  on both sides over the shoulder into a gutter. Very quickly new grass vegetation on the shoulder slows down the surface water and lets it seep away. Only dry roads are resilient over time.

Key advantages:

  • Solid, long-lasting roads: Without maintenance, these roads last for 3 to 10 years. With maintenance once a year, the roads would last indefinitely.
  • Flexibility: All equipment can be attached to tractors; no separate prime mover is needed. Several subsequent work steps can be carried out with one tractor, which will dramatically reduce capital costs, allowing the company to operate at highly competitive prices.
  • Reliability: all equipment is low maintenance and can be easily maintained locally by exchanging worn out parts. There are no complex electronics involved, thereby enabling repair shops to do the maintenance with simple tools and a local workforce.
  • Durability: The technology is proven and has a track record of more than 30 years.
  • Environment friendliness: there is no need for imported materials and no adhesive chemicals are necessary.
  • Cost efficiency: Low cost.
  • Case Study: Secondary road made by POEMA

    This highly frequented, broad secondary gravel road in the Harz region of Germany was rehabilitated by POEMA 12 years ago with an even surface and convex profileand is still stable many years later.

    One year after rehabilitation, the local road construction association purchased a POEMA grader. Since that time, the road is maintained once a year with the grader. It takes two days of work for this 4 km road. Heavy-duty truck-trailer combinations drive along that road with a speed of up to 60 km/h.

    This road is one of many proofs of concept in Germany and Central Europe that demonstrates the superior quality of roads being constructed and regularly maintained by POEMA equipment. Optimal secondary roads can be maintained over decades with a minimum of maintenance cost.

    Investment Project

    The business case of a future investment project is twofold:

    1. To found companies that will offer construction and maintenance of durable secondary roads (low-volume roads) in various African countries by introducing the superior POEMA technology not yet existent in Africa.

    2. Together with the technology provider: To found a joint venture for finalizing the development of a tractor tailor-made for the needs of road construction in that nation. This product will also allow us to offer repair services for tarred roads which are faster, more cost-efficient and more durable than the existing “technology” of filling potholes.