Human and Animal Powered Vehicles (HAPV's) have been the norm in transport for thousands of years in the first world. They are still the norm in the second world – but have yet to arrive in most of the third world.
In rural Africa, if something cannot be carried in person (mostly on the head), it is dragged on a travois or sledge (two poles tied behind an animal) and there is no record anywhere of a native workshop or factory, presently or historically, for the mass production of the wheel, carts, carriages or bicycles.
The extent to which the absence of the wheel has impaired development in Africa can only be guessed. In terms of health, social structure and nature, the effect of its absence has been, and still is, devastating i.e:
Health: In the past, water (food and fuel) determined where people lived and when they migrated. Because of its proximity, multiple trips to fetch water in small and reasonably sized clay pots was not a problem. Nowadays, with migratory habits curtailed by borders, territories, highways and railway lines, women in some cases have to walk in excess of 25 kilometres to fetch water. The result – bigger containers and heavier loads (mostly recycled 25 litre industrial containers, weighing in at 25 kg filled with water). Loads that are too heavy for human health – and a major contributor to osteoarthritis among aging African women, in spite of their 'load-adapted' skeletal frames and vertibrae.
Social Structure: In most rural communities fetching water is a daily chore. In many cases though, it consumes a major part of the day, leaving little time for other necessities e.g. tending children, animals and gardens. (Carrying 25 litres of water over 25 kilometres can take a full day.)
Nature: The travois or sledge has been in use for centuries to transport heavy loads. Unfortunately it has been a major contributor to the onset of soil erosion in Africa ("dragging the top soil into the oceans") and one of the worst exploitations of animal power, both in terms of abuse and inefficiency
Water on tap for all would be the ideal way to solve the above, but will not become a reality for most in rural Africa for many years to come – and when it does, it won't resolve the dire need for basic transportation.
Affording a motorised vehicle will remain out of reach for the majority of Africans. Depending on public transport also won't help, as it is hopelessly inadequate in urban areas and extremely limited and expensive in rural areas – with nothing to suggest that the status quo may change in the foreseeable future.
On the other hand, Human and Animal Powered Vehicles (HAPV's) could be a feasible solution. Affordable to the masses, both in terms of purchasing (private or communal) and running costs, HAPV's could transform life on the continent and help resolve many difficulties, including major development inertia.
It is however, a mode of transport that for some reason has never taken off in Africa. Maybe because 70% of the continent's surface consists of soft sand – and inflatable tyre technology was never available. Whatever the reasons in the past, HAPV's incorporating and based on modern technology (Mars & Moon Buggies) should seriously be considered as a mode of transport for Africa, particularly in rural communities – even at the risk of it being viewed as a step backward in time. (A probable, yet incorrect notion, as Africa has never gone through this phase of transportation development.)