In the bustling urban landscapes of Africa, a silent revolution is underway—one that transcends the clamour of rapid urbanisation and envisions a future where sustainability and green innovation drive the transportation agenda. As cities expand at unprecedented rates, the looming spectre of climate change and its ramifications cannot be ignored.Transportation, contributing to 25% of Africa’s energy consumption, faces emission challenges. Green transport solutions, including electric vehicles, aim to mitigate these challenges This article sheds light on the leaders championing sustainable transportation solutions and steering African cities towards a greener, more eco-conscious future.
African Cities: A Canvas of Evolution
African cities are experiencing an unparalleled transformation, mirroring the vigour of the Industrial Revolution. The impact of this metamorphosis is evident in the daily lives of city dwellers, which are shaped by both known and unknown forces. As we stand at the crossroads, it is predicted that African cities will become the largest megapolises in human history by 2100.
Research underscores the unique trajectory of the African continent, projected to be the sole region with a rapidly growing population by the end of this century. This surge is fueled by the influx of young people seeking their place in a rapidly evolving landscape, with urban hubs offering promising job prospects. The result? A forecasted population doubling to 2.5 billion in the next 25 years and the intriguing prospect that 13 of the world’s 20 largest cities will call Africa home—a dramatic increase of two from the current scenario.
Spotlight on Visionary Leaders
In the heart of Kenya, President Ruto took centre stage during Nairobi’s inaugural Climate Summit. His firm stance against climate change and its impact on African cities was not confined to rhetoric. President Ruto, known for his environmental consciousness, made a powerful statement by opting for a small electric vehicle over the conventional entourage, symbolising the need for a sustainable future. This visionary choice resonates with the urgent call for creative solutions at all societal levels to combat climate change.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has earned global accolades for spearheading eco-friendly initiatives in Kigali, the nation’s capital. Since outlawing plastic bags in 2008, Kigali has stood as Africa’s cleanest city. President Kagame’s commitment to sustainable development is evident through initiatives like car-free days and the creation of pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, aligning with the broader goal of electric mobility.
Strive Masiyiwa, the driving force behind Econet Global and Cassava Technologies, has actively engaged in environmentally friendly transportation initiatives. His influence extends globally with electric vehicle projects, including the introduction of electric taxis in Zimbabwe. Masiyiwa’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions underscores the pivotal role technology companies can play in reshaping Africa’s transportation landscape.
Leapfrogging Towards Sustainable Transport
Globally, cities contribute over 70% of carbon dioxide emissions, largely due to fossil fuel-dependent transportation systems. African cities are witnessing a surge in personal car usage, intensifying the burden of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the opportunity for sustainable transformation lies within the urbanisation boom.
Dr. Akech E. Ochungo, a climate change expert and senior transportation lecturer, suggests a paradigm shift in urban planning. Inspired by concepts like the 15-minute city, Ochungo advocates for integrated land use and transport policies. This transformative approach entails creating self-contained neighbourhoods with efficient mass transit modes, embracing electric buses, cable cars, and clean energy-powered transportation.
Decarbonising African Cities: A Paradigm Shift
Urbanisation in Africa presents a unique opportunity to invest in sustainable transport systems, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 11.2. By strategically organising neighbourhoods and implementing clean transport systems, African cities can drastically reduce per capita greenhouse gas emissions.
Global leaders, including Nicolas Peltier-Thiberge, the World Bank Global Director for Transport, express optimism about this approach. He believes that developing countries can pioneer transport infrastructure and services that require minimal ‘retrofitting’ for climate and livability, reducing the impact of urban growth on transport-related emissions.
In the pursuit of a sustainable transport system, Africa has the chance to be a trailblazer in new development frontiers. Initiatives like UNEP’s Share the Road programme, promoting non-motorised transport for active mobility, offer a roadmap to healthier and more sustainable cities. Embracing the 15-minute city model can usher Africa towards near-zero emissions, making it a beacon of hope for a greener, more sustainable future.
The journey towards sustainable transport is complex but essential. As Africa forges ahead into 2063, the realisation of a sustainable transport system remains a pivotal goal—one that demands innovative solutions, collective action, and a steadfast commitment to a brighter, greener tomorrow.