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Making transport a driver for development in Africa

Posted on 23 October 2012

A new report by a panel of international experts highlights policies to improve air quality road safety and congestion, supporting African development.

Transport is playing a big role in delivering economic development to Africa. But as the demand for transport grows and cities expand, policy makers need to tackle transport challenges to make sure that all parts of society can benefit from this central driver of jobs and growth.

“Transport policies in Africa are of critical importance to the delivery of sustainable cities, healthy citizens and poverty eradication,” says Dr Dieter Schwela from Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York. “This new report synthesizes knowledge on current trends, key issues and challenges facing policy makers and provides examples of best practice and case studies from African countries and internationally.”

Road safety is extremely poor compared with the rest of the world with Africa accounting for over 10 per cent of global road fatalities.  As urban populations in Sub Saharan African countries continue to expand at unprecedented rates, traffic congestion is increasing with some cities approaching gridlock.

Urban air and noise pollution is also worsening, particularly as result of the increase in numbers of vehicles and their associated emissions. Lack of air quality monitoring, emission standards and regulatory procedures exacerbate the problems. This has serious implications in terms of health and equity as well as thwarting economic development. Rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector are also a cause for concern.

Transport policies in Africa are of critical importance to the delivery of sustainable cities, healthy citizens and poverty eradication

Dr Dieter Schwela

The Transport Environment Science and Technology (TEST) network, a four year funded project by the European Commission’s Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group Science and Technology Programme, is launching a new publication at a special session at CODATU XV Conference entitled “The role of urban mobility in (re)shaping cities” in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), 22 to 25 October 2012.

The report, written by a panel of international experts, provides an introduction to the transport and environment issues in SSA countries. It focuses on the key transport-related areas of air pollution, road safety, traffic flow management, equity and climate change.  The study also makes recommendations for the development of sustainable transport policies based on five central principles:

• Maximizing transport accessibility for all social groups, genders and income levels, so that all citizens can access health care, education, training and jobs with minimal effort, costs and journey time.

• Creating a safe, secure urban environment with the minimum possible risk of death and injury from road accidents.

• Ensuring that all public health measures deal with the debilitating and costly consequences of air pollution on human health.

• Freeing up urban road space by improving traffic flow conditions in a way that stimulates economic activity and job creation and avoids the generation of new traffic.

• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The executive summary is available in French and English and full report (only in English) can be downloaded from the SEI and TEST websites ( and

Notes to editors:

  • The TEST Network aims to support Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries in formulating and implementing sustainable transport policies which contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable economic development. TEST Network members in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zambia work in partnership with SEI and EURIST (

    CODATU – (Cooperation for urban mobility in the developing world) ( is a nonprofit organization with an international vocation which promotes international exchange between different actors, both in transport and urban mobility fields.
  • The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched by the U.N. World Bank in more than 100 countries, with one goal: to prevent five million road traffic deaths globally by 2020.
  • The University of York was established in 1963 and is one of the leading universities in the UK for teaching and research. It was ranked first in the UK and eighth in the world in the 2012 Times Higher Education ranking of universities under 50 years old.
  • The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) is an international nonprofit research organization that has been engaged in environment and development issues at the local, national, regional and global policy levels for more than 20 years. Its goal is to bring about change for sustainable development by bridging science and policy. SEI has seven centres worldwide, in Stockholm; Oxford and York, U.K.; the United States; Bangkok, Thailand; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Tallinn, Estonia.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153

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