Through our work in Sub-Saharan Africa, we have identified key trends and dynamics affecting the viability and effectiveness of sustainable urban transport systems in various African cities. These cities include the major and emerging centres of Accra (Ghana), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Cape Town (South Africa), Dakar (Senegal), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), and Lagos (Nigeria). This is a two-part themed post which discusses issues affecting urban transport systems.
Accessing the city
Cities in Africa are growing faster than on any other continent. According to the World Bank, urban areas were home to 36% of the African population in 2010, and it is expected that half of the African populace will reside in cities by 2030. Individuals and families gravitate towards cities seeking opportunities for socio-economic inclusion, an escape from the perceived “global periphery”.
Yet cities have their own peripheries where marginalisation and exclusion are exacerbated by a lack of access to opportunities such as employment, education and services. Uncontrolled urban sprawl and poor transport systems limit urban access by creating long distances between origins and destinations which are difficult to cover using the existing systems. The problem is pervasive; those at the margins remain marginalised and even the relatively well-off are limited by the inefficiencies of intolerable congestion, unpredictable travel times, and environmental degradation.
Three issues relating to city accessibility are particularly salient in the urban African context and need to be recognised in order to create appropriate transport solutions.