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Building Technology

The high cost of transport and the lack of electricity have drastically increased the cost of infrastructure development and construction materials. As a direct consequence, the level of public infrastructure in Africa has been in decline. 

The need for viable alternative solutions that take advantage of locally-available resources is therefore crucial. To do this, Africans must learn from Roman practices, which have left many of the greatest architectural monuments still in use after 2000 years. 

Other useful inspirations on how to build African infrastructure can be derived from the period before the invention of cement and steel in Europe. In those days, labour-intensive measures, local materials and simple techniques (arches, vaults, simple machines) were the only means of infrastructure development. 

Also, during the colonial period in Africa, the use of arches as a reliable and affordable building technique was very wide-spread. This practice stopped after independence, when capital-intensive approaches, which focused on maximizing profit and monopolising production (cement factories) took over for labour-intensive techniques and the use of readily available resources. 

The enormous cost of infrastructure construction can be drastically reduced if appropriate tools and techniques are used. 

It is very common to find bridges made of wood or cement, concrete or imported steel iron in environments that dispose over large amounts of stones. These bridges require rehabilitation every two to five years. An arch bridge is suitable, simple to build and cheap, and could prove to be a lasting solution for local communities and nations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Different types of cranes used to raise or move heavy construction materials, such as rocks, stones, mortar etc. (from Nicola Cavalieri San-Bertolo "Istituzioni di Architectura Statica e Idraulica", Mantova 1831).