The Zambian government has ambitious road construction projects. One project, Link 8000, will upgrade 37 roads in all regions to bituminous standards. The roads will be double surfaced or have asphalt concrete. 8201 km of roads will be built over 5 years. Another road project, Pave 2000, will upgrade and rehabilitate township roads. Aside from improving the state of infrastructure, the government aims to create jobs. A total of 24000 jobs are planned through direct employment and establishment of contracting firms by Zambians. To facilitate the latter, the government has instituted a 20% subcontracting policy.
Twenty percent of the value of all projects contracted to foreign firms must be subcontracted to Zambian firms. Although Zambian firms have a lucrative opportunity, they lack the skills required to take advantage of it. Basic skills like asphalt laying, and equipment operation are in short supply. Artisans, technicians, and machine operators are lacking. This undermines the government’s intentions in the sector. The Road Construction Knowledge programme will increase the skills of road contractors by training members of the contractors association. Through this action, it is envisaged that Zambian firms will be better positioned to capitalise on the 20% subcontracting policy.
This Road Construction Knowledge Programme is a follow up activity of the mission of Zambian road contractors to the Netherlands in 2013. Nineteen company representatives and 4 (four) by officials from Zambia’s Road Development Agency (RDA) participated. The mission publicized opportunities within Zambia’s road sector to companies and other actors involved within the sector in the Netherlands. Arising from the familiarity gained during the mission, some Dutch companies are now actively seeking opportunities in Zambia.
Zambian road constructors were very impressed by Dutch in road construction and would very much like to further capitalize on the knowledge transfer possibilities. The most relevant opportunities are mentioned under “Activities”.
Main targeted results:
- Increase the capacity of Zambian contractors to undertake subcontracted works
- Enhance Zambia’s capacity to train and educate road contractors
- Get Dutch companies acquainted with the business opportunities in Zambia’s road construction sector
- Training courses on road construction:
These will be divided into 2 parts. The first course is a Training of Trainers in road construction methods that will last for 7 days. Twenty people will be trained (2 representing each region). Graduates will help instructors train another 30 road constructors in each of the 10 regions. This will give them hands on experience by providing a chance to apply lessons learned. Each Dutch instructor will be assisted by 2 ToT graduates from the region. Courses will run concurrently in 2 regions for 7 days. Zambia has 10 regions which brings the total beneficiaries to 300. How to select trainees? There is an element of self-selection involved. The association indicates that prospective participants are willing to pay for attendance. This implies that only companies holding the course in high esteem will apply. Companies that lack money to apply are by implication ineligible for road construction projects since minimum financial criteria is specified. We might have to devise a scoring model for selecting participants that incorporates key variables. One of the key considerations is absorption capacity, and potential to use knowledge gained etc. A model such as the one used to select participants of the road mission in 2013 might suffice with adaption. This course will have positive spill over effects as participants will share the knowledge gained within their companies to other employees. Therefore, firm level productivity is expected to increase. ToT graduates will be available to dispense knowledge gained to interested parties.
- Training courses in machine operations:
These will be divided into two. The first will be Training of Trainers course for 20 people. Two representatives will be drawn from each of Zambia’s 10 regions. The course will last for 7 days. It will be followed by a machine operations course targeted at 4 regions selected on the basis of the performance of their representatives in the ToT course. This course will be used to strengthen the knowledge of ToT course participants. ToT graduates will impart skills to the rest of the regions later on through decentralized training. The intervention will increase the skills of associates. It will also increase productivity within Zambia’s road sector as staff employ the knowledge gained. This knowledge will be incorporated in NCC as there is close interconnectivity between NAMSSC and NCC. ToT graduates will be available to dispense their knowledge to interested parties under the auspices of the association after the end of the project.
- Materials construction testing training:
This intervention will train 40 people. It will positively impact efficiency standards within the sector. People will have better awareness of appropriate material for construction purposes. The course will last for 14 days.
- Curriculum advice
As a conclusion of this project the lessons learned along the way will be taken up in an advice concerning integration of new elements in the NCC curriculums for road construction. This will last for 14 days.