Using labor-based methods for road works has been an important part of the strategy to improve rural transport infrastructure in Africa over the past twenty-five years. These methods not only produce gravel roads of equal quality to those produced using equipment-based methods, but they also generate rural employment in a accost-effective manner. Although labor-based methods have proved to be a cost-effective alternative to equipment-based methods in many low-wage Sub-Saharan African countries, these methods have not been applied on large scale.
The literature gives two explanations for contractors' reluctance to adopt labor-based methods. First, contractors believe the cost of learning this new technology is high. Programs designed to promote labor-based methods have always included subsidized training to address this problem. This study argues that focusing on training often diverts attention away from more substantive problems inherent in adopting labor-based methods.
Transportation costs represent a serious obstacle for the development of trade and commerce in a number of African countries, i.e., it hinders economic growth. The New Partnership for the Development of Africa - NEPAD - identified this problem by including, within the elements of a strategic approach, the dynamics of a continent's development, thus providing sustainable responsiveness to the challenge of poverty reduction. Within this context, this document reviews the results from various field surveys, and seeks to offer perspectives on the broad obstacles found by transport operators.