I prepared this risk analysis very early on but did not publish it. I am doing so now, but backdating it to the beginning of the project, which is when it was prepared.
In any project it is always a good idea to be aware of the things that can go wrong and put you off schedule, or off track or, in this case, off the road. Some of the issues that might impact upon an obruni procuring and restoring an old vehicle in Ghana and using it to explore West Africa include the following.
A. To Procurement
Cannot find a suitable vehicle
LowThere seems to be no shortage in Accra.
Diversify sourcing network beyond Opere by telling CHC drivers and Francis the CHC mechanic I am in the market
B. To Restoration
Opere becomes unavailable due to illness, misfortune or disagreement between us.
MediumOpere seems a tremendous asset, but my dependence on him need not be absolute.
Getting the mechanical rebuild done first
carefully cultivating the relationship so I can rely on him
Diversify sources of expertise
2. I become ill, or Ghana posting is cut short
If fopr any reason I have to bail on the project with a half-restored vehicle I can likely find someone to buy it, Opere himself will likely be a good candidate
Actual Restoration cost exceeds budget
Complete as much as possible of the work myself; careful sourcing of parts;
C. To the Expedition
Cannot take the time due to personnel or professional obligations
LowI am now eligible to retire and plan to do so when I leave here so there will be no professional obligations
Complete arrangements for retirement, pre-retirement leave, and repatriation of personal effects well in advance.
2. Mechanical Troubles en route
Medium to High This is an older vehicle, mechanical troubles have to be expected
Become very familiar with the vehicle;Carry suitable tools;Complete Test Trips
3. Political Instability in Countries to be Visitied, including kidnapping risk
Medium to High People are kidnapped in the Sahel with regularity
Limited mitigation available. This is an adventure, if we are going to be risk adverse there is no point, we just have to get out there and do it.Maybe there is insurance?
D. To Demobilization
Unable to Sell before returning to Canada
Start marketing early,Diversify market options (Ghana local, Europeans interested in overlanding in AfricaFollow Canadian import regs
I am not particularly knowledgeable about Land Rovers (there is an understatement!)so before going too far Laura and I thought it might be a good idea to try to gain some exposure by going to South Africa and trying it out. We rented a 2005 Defender from Bushlore, an expedition outfitting company, and took it from Johannesburg in the north-east part of the country and down through Lesotho and back. It was slow, noisy, and wonderfully functional. We had a tent on the roof, propane tanks installed on the rear, a good fridge and lots of kitchen gear stowed in a drawer system inside.
We were most impressed by its road worthiness. In this big, heavily laden vehicle with a relatively small 2.5 Litre diesel engine we climbed the 3,000 metre Sani pass up into the Drakensberg range between South Africa and Lesotho, which is also known as the “mountain kingdom”, on a road that is not really a road at all, rather a very rough steep, track, full of quite tight hairpin turns. As we ascended this valley bounded on both sides by cliffs we honestly could not figure out where the road was going to go to get us out of the steeply walled valley, until we realized we were just going to go over the top.
The road just gets steeper and kind of transforms into a scree slope with tracks until you emerge out the top. Voici lepass. Driving our Defender 110 up that mountain was a delight, it simply clambered up the 40 degree slope, made all the tight, switchback turns and kept going, past other vehicles that had stopped dead in their tracks and were being pulled, by other Land Rovers. In 4WD low it felt as if we could climb straight up. Unfortunately we did not think to take pictures of the road when it really got tough.
When we reached the summit there were only about six other vehicles, all Land Rovers, (I am not joking – there are a lot of Land Rovers in South Africa) parked at the Sani Pass Inn, which bills itself as the highest bar in Africa.
After a well-lubricated pub lunch and a great conversation with the fascinating owner we drove another 100 km to an alpine town and flipped upon our roof-top tent under the stars. We were really enjoying the Land Rover experience.