African Journey - Part 4
Mali, Niger and Chad
The fourth leg of our journey takes in 3 large land-locked countries which stretch across the central zone of the African continent. All 3 countries have similar climatic sectors - the Sahara desert in the north, the Sahelian belt in the centre and tropical savanna in the southernmost part of each country. Our journey will cover the southern tracks of these 3 countries which have the “best” climate whilst to the north the desert-like conditions can be some of the harshest in the world.
Mali is the 24th largest country in the world. It is one of the hottest countries in the world with most of the population concentrated in the south (away from the desert conditions of the north) where tropical / savannah is the dominant climate type.
Niger is named after the Niger River and once again the vast majority of the terrain is desert. Niger’s economy centres on agriculture as well as some of the world’s largest uranium deposits. Niger's subtropical climate is mainly very hot and very dry, with huge desert area. In the extreme south there is a tropical climate on the edges of the Niger River basin. The terrain is predominantly desert plains and sand dunes, with flat to rolling savanna in the south and hills in the north.
According to the U.N index Chad is the seventh poorest country in the world. Years of neglect mean that the road network is limited; roads are often unusable for several months of the year. With no railways of its own, Chad depends heavily on Cameroon's rail system for the transport of Chadian exports and imports to and from the seaport of Douala.
An international consortium has invested $3.7 billion to develop oil reserves estimated at one billion barrels in southern Chad. Oil production began in 2003 with the completion of a pipeline (financed in part by the World Bank) that links the southern oilfields to terminals on the Atlantic coast of Cameroon. As a condition of its assistance, the World Bank has insisted that 70% of oil revenues be spent on development projects.
Starting in Mali, the distances involved in travelling across Mali to Niamey (Niger) and then on to N’Djamena (Chad) are huge (well over 3000 km) but we have just the vehicle for such a journey.
For this segment of our journey we are lucky to have the Land Cruiser 79 Series Double Cabin Pick-Up – HZJ79L-DKMRS.
This model is a beast in the toughest of conditions and is so versatile that it can comfortably carry 6 occupants as well as a huge amount of kit in the pick-up bed section. This model was added to the LC 70 series range in 2012 and since then has built a large and faithful following among UN, GO and International NGO customers. It is quite simply the toughest, most robust and multi-purpose pick-up in the world. And it will need to be as we work our way across Mali, Niger and Chad where the conditions will be incredibly inhospitable. But the vehicle cannot do all this on its own – it will need to be fitted with key accessories so that when it gets into trouble ( as it inevitably will ) it will be able to extricate itself.
Firstly, the TGS Sand Package includes 2 water jerry cans, a double jerry can holder, an air jack, a foldable shovel, a portable air compressor and recovery tracks. We consider all these items to be indispensable when working in sandy, desert-like terrains and conditions.
Then, in addition to those items, a Global Satellite and GSM Vehicle Tracking Device and fleet management software will be fitted. The following features combine to make this an indispensable accessory in tough inaccessible regions - vehicle tracking, even in remote areas, maintenance management, driving behaviour management, fuel management, vehicle user management and active and historic mapping( includes global SIM card.).
Our technical training team has carried out training events in both Mali and Chad in recent years and the films we made about each of these events give a clear idea of what the driving conditions are like in these two countries.
Our technical training teams have conducted programmes all over the world in recent years and are specialised in bringing their expertise to help develop best practices for drivers and maintenance teams.
Join us next month as we continue our journey through Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso.