Mobility is an enabler of economic growth and social development. Rapid urbanisation and motorization are increasing traffic congestion in African cities leading to economic losses, air pollution and increasing fatalities and injuries from road traffic crashes. Public Transport in most cities is largely informal and tend to be both unreliable and unaffordable, while majority of urban dwellers are compelled to walk long distances in unsafe conditions to reach their destinations.
A predominant focus on building more roads to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers of cars rather than on improving public transport services and integrating them with better facilities for walking and cycling is among the underlying causes of the problems people face in moving around town in African cities.
And yet some cities have made progress. For example, the Bus Rapid Transit system commissioned in 2017 in Dar-Es-Salam serves more than 200,000 passengers a day and has reduced the time spent on travel by 50 hours a month for passengers making the full trip.
Similar systems are in the planning stages for cities such as Addis Ababa, Kampala and Nairobi.
Emerging technologies can provide potential solutions. For example, if car occupancy can be increased through car or ride-sharing, the same levels of mobility can be achieved by a small fraction of the current number of cars on the road. Bike-sharing schemes can be made more workable with the use of GIS and ICT technologies and reduce the number of car-trips if properly integrated into a public transport system.
Also important is better coordination between national and local governments as well as transport and land-use planning. For example, construction and maintenance of major roads are often the responsibility of national governments, while city administrations often deal with public transport operations. Transport and land-use strongly influence each other but seldom are these considered together leading to sprawl and increased demand for transport.
This High-Level Session, jointly organised by UN-Habitat, the African Transport Policy Programme(SSATP) and the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) will explore the policy dimensions of urban mobility particularly looking at the better coordination between national transport and urban policies to improve outcomes at the city or metropolitan level. The session will also explore the role of emerging technologies in achieving sustainable urban mobility and stimulate a debate between governments and innovators.
The session will result in a joint UN HABITAT-SSATP-UITP Outcome Document: “Communique to Policy Makers to harness innovations and achieve sustainable urban mobility in Africa”. Ministers, Mayors, and other supporting organisations will be invited to endorse it.