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, including in 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 the second and final post on transport in African cities. In this post, we discuss financing mechanisms for sustainable transport and the institutions required to make them successful.
Funding and institutions
As illustrated previously, there is a clear and urgent need for holistic, innovative transport solutions to improve the lives of those currently living in, or planning to move to, rapidly growing African cities. The dynamics discussed in the previous post do not stand alone, and their interrelatedness only increases their complexity. There are many efforts to improve these situations, but improvement needs to be done in a considered way, recognising contextual differences and limitations. This is particularly relevant when assessing funding mechanisms and the capacity of existing institutions to implement transport improvements.
Public transport requires funding beyond infrastructure
The financial sustainability of urban transport systems is key. International experience indicates that it is rare for formal, high quality public transport services to be operationally self-sufficient and affordable. According to one study, while some Asian and Latin American cities have profitable public transport systems or corridors (often due to high densities and/or high fares), and some Latin American cities maintain operationally self-sufficient public transport corridors, European and North American cities manage an operating cost recovery of less than 60 and 40% respectively.