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New infrastructure unlocks new doors for African development

Photo: COWI

​The interest to invest in new infrastructure in Africa is increasing along with the economic growth on the continent. COWI is involved in a range of projects – among others three major road projects in Uganda.

​A 107-kilometre gravel country road full of potholes runs between the city of Mubende and the smaller, but important, city of Kagadi near Lake Albert, Uganda.

Cars travel slowly along the trafficked main artery, which takes them on a bumpy ride across swaps and rivers. This is the current state of many African roads, which calls for investments in new infrastructure to support the substantial economic growth across the African continent. 

Shortening the distance to the capital

COWI is one of the companies involved in a range of infrastructure projects in Africa. One of the them, is the country road between Mubende and Kagadi, which will be widened and paved.

China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) is heading the construction project and COWI is designing the road. This includes optimising the alignment and ensuring the traffic an optimum speed through the landscape and a series of small towns. The design also includes underpasses and bridges across a number of rivers and swamps.

"The new alignment will increase both speed and safety. Today, it's possible to travel at 30-40 km/h, and the new alignment will allow for an average speed of around 80 km/h between towns and 50 km/h in the small towns, where special safety precautions must be taken," says Jan Holm Pedersen, projekt director in COWI, Roads and Airports in Africa. 

COWI is also cooperating with CCCC on tendering for the Kampala-Jinja Expressway, which is going to relieve the existing two-lane asphalt road.

The expressway will feature between four and eight tracks, and includes the last section of the bypass road around Kampala. That project started in 2009, and COWI is supervisor on the northern part of the extension.

To finance the expressway project, the road will be a toll road.

Local knowledge and international experience

"It is a huge advantage for us to have been present in Africa for decades. Our local knowledge of the area, the geological conditions, codes and standards and, not least, our insight into the local authorities in African countries ease many of the processes in the African market that international actors consider challenging," says Jan Holm.

The combination of COWI's international experience and year-long presence in Eastern Africa has also contributed to COWI's role in the Entebbe Airport expansion project in Uganda.

COWI is responsible for designing the new passenger terminal and the new cargo buildings, renovation of runways and expansion of the taxiways.

PUBLISHED: 21.03.2016


​COWI operates offices in Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Mozambique.

The first office opened in 1965 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Selected ongoing COWI projects in Africa:
- 600 kilometres of railway from Tabora to Kigoma, Tanzania
- Capacity expansion at Entebbe Airport
- Supervision of the Kampala Northern bypass
- Design and supervision of 160 kilometres of main road link to Rwanda, including bypass in new alignment around Mbarara.

LAST UPDATED: 14.03.2017