Why transport mobility is key to development

Some of the new commuter buses used in Kigali. File.

African countries need to seek ways to address issues related to urban transportation and mobility given the growing number of the population that is migrating to cities.

People living in urban areas on the continent have been projected to grow from 36 per cent in 2010 to 50 per cent by 2030, according to World Bank statistics.

The urban population in Kigali stands at 1.5 million people and its annual growth rate is 4 per cent making it one of the most densely populated cities in Africa.

This comes with a challenge to ensure, among others, the roadmap to achieve sustainable transport to curb challenges associated with that growing number.

In the Urban Mobility Forum held in Kigali, which brought together experts in infrastructure development from various institutions in the country and Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Programme (SSATP), it was noted that governments need to work with partners to develop clear strategies and a roadmap for sustainable mobility and transport in all urban cities.

The two-day forum, that ended Friday, was organised to bring together stakeholders from different fields, professions and levels of government to develop a holistic vision for urban mobility in Rwanda.

It was organised by the Government of Rwanda in partnership SSATP.

According to Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye, the state minister for transport, lack of efficient mobility can be a barrier not only to economic development but also to the entire urbanisation process.

“The more the city has limited mobility, the more the economy is affected and the more it does not attract people for urbanisation, for us to achieve a sustainable and efficient urbanisation, urban mobility needs to be key,” he told participants.

He said that Rwanda has made urbanisation a key pillar of its transformation agenda and it is fully catered for in the seven-year government programme.

The minister said that Rwanda has started to implement some measures to improve urban mobility, such as separating the transport regulatory role under Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (RURA) and management of contracts for urban public transport companies.

Julien Allaire, the head of International Operations at Transitec, a company specialised in mobility that works with SSAT hailed Rwanda for having made strides over the last 10 years to improve and expand the major networks in the cities.

He said, however, that there is still an issue of traffic jams.

He stressed the need for traffic management and giving priority to public transport to reduce waiting time for public transport so as to encourage those who drive private cars to use public buses.

“There is need to first build governance systems, seek financial capacity and build capacity for people who would contribute toward sustainable mobility and transport in cities. Besides, improving mobility goes hand in hand with other policies such as improving urban transport and urban development” he said.

Zimedkun Girma Tessema, a senior transport specialist at SSATP, said there is no size fits all for all countries when it comes to improving mobility and transport.

He called for more sensitisation, training, increased knowledge base and dissemination of available information as well as capacity building.

He said countries should work with World Bank, Africa Development Bank as well as other partners to develop their urban mobility and transport systems.



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