The Transport Challenge in Africa

Transport policies, awareness and problem solving are of critical importance to the delivery of sustainable cities, healthy citizens, development and poverty eradication in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). High quality transport systems that respect the interests and aspirations of the poor, women, children undergoing education and those needing access to health care is a catalyst for the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and for the creation and promotion of a quality of life for all sections of the community.

truck-driver-getting-shook-down-in-ghana_435 Transport is vital for trade, commerce, business, new firm formation and the widespread dissemination of entrepreneurial opportunities and participation in the labour force. However, it has to be designed and managed in ways that are democratic and beneficial everyone.

A primary purpose of the Transport and Environment – Science Technology (TEST) Network is to mobilise a high level of co-operative effort through network activities to focus scientific and technological research in transport, stimulate debate, awareness, co-operation and problem solving which can contribute to the achievement of MDGs. The close, intimate and synergistic links between transport information, research, problem solving and delivery and the achievement of MDGs is discussed in "The International Forum for Rural Transport Development. Network report" (IFRTD, 2005) [1].

TEST embraces this vision of a unifying rationale and purpose underpinning transport network activities in southern Africa. Threat to Human Lives Road safety, traffic congestion, urban air pollution, road maintenance, accessibility and mobility problems in Africa are key challenges for the 2lst century. Rural to urban migration has contributed to a rapid expansion of cities, increasing levels of poverty and the proliferation of slums and has widened the gap between urban transport supply and demand. The increasing number of motor vehicles in Africa has resulted in traffic congestion, air and noise pollution and death and injury due to road crashes.

The World Road Statistics[2] show that Africa has one of the highest number of people killed in road accidents per 100,000 inhabitants. Inadequate public transport and limited shared road space for pedestrians have contributed to a poor quality of life for the most vulnerable in African societies.

Regional Policy Development

Various regional agreements have helped to improve certain aspects of the situation. Since the Dakar Agreement of 2001[3] SSA is almost completely free of leaded gasoline and similar regional agreements are starting to address high sulphur fuels and the other transport issues in a more integrated fashion (e.g. Ministerial Recommendations from the Regional Conference on Better Air Quality[4] in SSA cities, 2006, Lusaka and Nairobi Agreements 2008 and Libreville Declaration 2008).

This TEST Network will link strongly with these initiatives so that the information provided is appropriate and can be targeted effectively to the policy arena. It will also support the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) process to acquire, indigenize and sustain SSA science and technological capabilities and to make the NEPAD process knowledge-driven with respect to transport challenges.

South Africa taxi cycle in Cape Town

The emphasis of the TEST network is on science-led sustainable development of transport – traffic congestion, air pollution, road safety - that is rooted in African scholarship and global knowledge. The TEST network will help the NEPAD initiative to champion and popularize science and technology as the real forces for socio-economic growth.


Why the need for a Network

Published data on transport congestion, air pollution (including GHGs and noise) and road safety in SSA varies considerably. Data is often of poor scientific quality and based on many perspectives.[5] There is an urgent need for government agencies, academic institutions, industry and stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the nature and cause of transport problems and how improvements can be made using current science and technological advancements.

There is a need for comprehensive research to support policy and institutional development that incorporates the needs of pedestrians and non-motorised traffic modes, one which focuses on inter-modal compatibility.[6] The lessons learned in motorised countries (i.e. the neglect of pedestrian safety and need for community participation) should be shared with SSA countries in the hope that some of the costs of motorisation and development can be avoided.



[1] IFRTD (2005) The International Forum for Rural Transport Development. Network report
[2] IRF (2006), The IRF World Road Statistics 2006, Data 1999 – 2004, International Road Federation,Geneva (CH)
[3] The Dakar Declaration on the Phasing-out of Leaded Gasoline in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2001
[4] Summary of Ministerial Session at BAQ 2006 Nairobi, July 2006
[5] WHO (2004) World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention. World Health Organization, Geneva.
[6] Khayesi, K. (2003) Liveable Streets for Pedestrians in Nairobi: The Challenge of Road Traffic Accidents in Whitelegg, J. and Haq, G., World Transport Policy and Practice, Earthscan, London







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