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Collaboration Case Study


Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Introduction

DuPont™ Elvaloy® RET bitumen modifier established its presence in East Africa, when it was specified to widen and resurface a stretch of highway, spanning 125 km, and connecting Tanzania with Kenya. The project’s success is a result of collaboration between the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Ministry of Works (MoW), Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS), China Geo-Engineering Corporation (contractor), BSS South Africa (supplier) and Roughton International (consultant).


Background

While Africa is the world’s second largest and most populous continent, with over one billion people in 61 countries, it lags behind the rest of the world in all aspects of infrastructure development – from quantity and quality to cost and access. The continent’s topography and climate ranges from deserts (north) to mountainous jungles (central) and even more changes the further south one travels. It is this vastness that makes traveling in the continent such a challenge - whether by road, rail or air. The poor roads infrastructure, in particular, is a great barrier to free trade and economic growth; and closely connected to Africa’s economic, technological and social renaissance.

In 1997, Africa (excluding South Africa) had only 171,000 km paved road – approximately 18% less than that of Poland, a country roughly the size of Zimbabwe. As efforts to complete the trans-African highways continue, the quality of existing roads is deteriorating. In 1992, about 17% of Sub-Saharan Africa's primary roads were paved. This figure dropped to 12% by 1998, reports the World Bank.

Poor infrastructure most definitely contributes to the cost of transportation in Africa being among the highest in the world. Consequently, local good are becoming less competitive to that of other emerging markets. According to the World Bank, a 10% drop in transport costs could result in as much as a 25% increase in total African trade. The Bank’s studies further show that only about 25% of the decline in Africa's share of world exports can be attributed to poor prices, while the rest is due to non-price factors, such as poor infrastructure and information services.

Tanzania’s road network totals 85,000 km of which only 5% is currently paved. However, the government and private sector is investing heavily in construction, expansion and rehabilitation of the country’s roads, in recognition of the fact that rural districts in Tanzania are the hub of agricultural production and home to 80% of the country's population. Opportunities in infrastructure investment are therefore wide – ranging from highways, bridges, telecommunication, airports, railways, etc.


Aims & Objectives

  • To widen, patch and resurface the 125 km stretch of road that links Tanzania with Kenya
  • To use a bitumen modifier that meets the highest specification according to design; and improves the reliability and durability of the road
  • To enhance flexibility, toughness and weatherability of road and paving applications
  • To connect rural communities and cities, thereby boosting employment and economic growth

Challenges

DuPont identified the shortage of bitumen as a potential challenge to the timeous completion of the project. For this reason, DuPont ran a trial that included planning and testing with three different bitumen suppliers. BSS South Africa was selected as the preferred supplier for this project.


Approach

The government contracted China Geo-Engineering Corporation to design and construct the road. DuPont met China Geo-Engineering Corporation’s specification for a high quality polymer bitumen modifier; and supplied samples and laboratory trials, to ensure that DuPont™ Elvaloy® RET was the most appropriate material for the project. Training was also put in place to ensure that the correct techniques were applied throughout implementation.


Successes

  • The first paving project in Sub-Saharan Africa to be completed with DuPont™ Elvaloy® RET
  • Results proved that DuPont™ Elvaloy® RET is able to chemically react with bitumen and combat rutting, fatigue cracking, cold cracking and binder stripping
  • The successful application has led to the Tanzanian Government recommending DuPont™ Elvaloy® RET for the second phase of the project to upgrade the road network

Conclusion

The Tanzanian Government’s greatest challenge was moving trade timeously within its current infrastructure in order to boost economic growth. Five parties worked together to provide a solid and reliable road that connected Tanzania with neighboring countries. By doing so, Tanzania is now able to grow its economy and increase employment. DuPont™ Elvaloy® RET is a partner of choice for sustainable infrastructure.



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