Africa: On the right track to Public Transport Authorities

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The African continent is considered now, more than ever, as a land of opportunities. While the economic situation is improving, major challenges remain, the most important one being probably rapid urbanisation. Indeed, African urban areas are expected to grow by more than 3% each year until 2030, which will mean that 60% of the population on the continent will live in a city. With this major increase of urban-dwellers, will come the issue of mobility.

It’s no secret that improvements need to be made to offer more accessible, efficient and safe public mobility solutions in these cities. Efforts are being made to bridge the transport infrastructure gap.

It is not the only aspect that needs to be addressed, governance is also a priority to develop a structured and integrated system of public transport. This topic was high on the agenda of the latest Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP) annual general meeting, which was held in Abuja, Nigeria between 1 and 6 July.

Indeed, participants discussed how organising mobility will be crucial for African cities, even more so as the digitalisation wave is changing our sector. The first step to reach such an organised network is for decision makers to establish a Public Transport Authority (PTA) on their territory.

Some cities in Africa have already taken the lead in setting up PTA structures. The experience of these UITP members is insightful for other cities that are ready to follow the same strategy and it all begins with the willingness and ability of decision makers to delegate the necessary autonomy for transport authorities to drive the mobility agenda and related investments and services.

This capacity to act, should however come with a long-term vision, as transport decisions are difficult to implement without incremental steps and of course the support of local and national Champions. Partnerships can also become essential to assist in developing and implementing data driven strategies, which are now considered as being key elements in the establishment of PTAs.

Of course, many other aspects have to be taken into account when it comes to setting up such an important structure.

In the next months, UITP/UATP and SSATP will be working together on awareness, advocacy, technical assistance and capacity building to advance further on the road to establish more Public Transport Authorities in African cities.

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