Lightweight, easily assembled: A truck specifically designed for Africa

    A working prototype of the OX — a lightweight flatpack truck conceived by Sir Torquil Norman and developed by the U.K. Global Vehicle Trust. The OX is engineered to be a cheap method of long distance transport and travel even in rigorous African roads, and for situations where quick assembly is needed like natural disaster, epidemics or conflict. Photo by: U.K. Global Vehicle Trust

    Africa does not only need infrastructure, but also reliable new vehicles to use the roads that international development agencies are helping to build.

    This is why the U.K. Global Vehicle Trust is helping to develop the “OX,” a lightweight flatpack truck that can be built in less than 12 hours and is designed to withstand potholes and other kinds of rough terrain.

    The OX was first though of three years ago by British businessman and philanthropist Sir Torquil Norman, who was inspired by a 1980s project to build a special automobile especially suited to African roads, a GVT spokesman told Devex.

    Although now it is only a working prototype currently being tested and therefore not available for purchase, the organization is looking for donations to raise 3 million pounds to complete the process and start production. The spokesman explained that the first tests are being conducted in the United Kingdom, and if they are successful, further testing will continue in developing countries in Africa.

    Unique design

    The OX weighs 1.5 metric tons and can carry up to 13 people. In order to cut down assembly time, it’s made of very simple parts that can be prepared for delivery in about 5 hours, and one fully-assembled OX can load six flat packs.

    According to the engineers, the truck is ideal for those who need cheap transport and travel long distances, as well as for situations where quick assembly is needed like natural disaster, epidemics or conflict, and the goal is for the vehicle to someday become an essential part of remote village communities all across Africa.

    Despite its specific design for Africa, GVT says there has been demand for the prototype from developed countries.

    “The OX is unique [because] unlike other cars which are just fitted to use in Africa, it has been designed specifically for Africa. There has never been a vehicle specifically designed for the rigors of Africa,” he spokesman added.

    Read our previous #innov8aid.

    About the author

    • Carlos Santamaria

      Carlos is a former associate editor for breaking news in Devex's Manila-based news team. He joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE ,and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York, and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.

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