Only 17 percent of Zambia’s rural population lives within 2km of a proper paved road and according to the World Bank’s Rural Access Index, nearly 7.5 million rural residents remain unconnected to the country’s existing road network. With barely one percent of the country’s roads paved, developing the road network and improving connectivity to the rural areas is the top priority for Zambia’s development, and its economic growth. The initiative is part of a larger pan-African effort to upgrade the continent’s road network and pave the way for progress. Neighboring countries like South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya that have a head start, have invested significantly – and successfully – in road-building as the route to development.
Towards this, the World Bank has approved $200 million for uplifting Zambia’s rural infrastructure through an Improved Rural Connectivity Project, with the rest of the funds coming from the government. The project will benefit 460,000 people in the targeted six rural provinces, while the Zambian government will independently fund the project work in the remaining four provinces.
This ambitious road development project will give a huge boost to Zambia’s infrastructure and transport sector. The new roads will bring increased connectivity to education, health facilities and employment opportunities, as well as allow the agriculture sector to fetch a better price for its produce in the bigger markets that will become more easily accessible.
New roads mean new opportunities for the country’s transport sector. Be it the increased demand from road contractors for trucks to transport men and materials, to the growing demand for buses and vans from fleet operators running local transport services for the newly connected regions, new roads create volumes for new vehicles. And the biggest spike in the volumes is expected in the light trucks and small trucks segments, from individual buyers, farmers and local communities.
Tata Motors already has a strong presence in Lusaka. Its mini-trucks, Ace and Super Ace, are exactly the right commercial vehicles to suit the rural community’s needs. With most of rural Zambia reliant on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood, these mini-trucks are just the right vehicles to take the rough with the smooth, on the road to prosperity.