UMii Report: innovation in Africa

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The Urban Mobility Innovation Index (UMii) Final Report was released on 9 November 2017. Sponsored by the Roads & Transport Authority of Dubai (RTA) and implemented by UITP in partnership with Future Cities Catapult, UMii seeks to empower city leaders to implement urban mobility policies and measures that are relevant to their ecosystem and enable innovation, whilst promoting knowledge sharing and dialogue.

Distinguishing itself from other surveys by focusing on good practices sharing instead of pure competition ranking, the UMii Report illustrates the performance of the 30 cities according to the maturity level of their innovation ecosystem. The index has been based on the testing of nine innovation levers divided in three categories: readiness, deployment and liveability. A contextual dimension was taken into consideration for each city when evaluating the performances in the different domains.

The results of the survey will be presented in a series of six different news articles, covering the regions in which the UMii cities are located and their specificities. The fifth article of the UMii series covers the region of Africa.

As seen in the previous UMii news articles, it is not an easy task to compare innovation ecosystems in one continent, let alone such a contrasting region as Africa. Yet, the UMii project team achieves this by testing their model on three important cities on the continent: Abuja (Nigeria), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Nairobi (Kenya).

The region of opportunities

Innovation ecosystems, as presented in the UMii Report are communities driven by local actors. This local aspect is key, as it allows the analysis to take into account the context in which the mobility sector is evolving. This consideration is particularly important when talking about the African region as it is facing many challenges, but also developing adapted solutions to develop new opportunities.

This is the case in Abuja, Nigeria, where high levels of congestion and a lack of integration are hampering mobility for citizens. The authorities are addressing these issues by developing core transport infrastructure, but also by engaging users through different means. The city offers, for example, a website on which costumers can share their views on transport services, rank them and even complain if they are dissatisfied. The data is available for users to make more informed decisions. The city also conducts town hall meetings to consult citizens and offers them a 24-hour toll-free call centre to submit complaints.

Town hall meetings, and other consultation events, are also organised in Johannesburg, South Africa, as one way of collecting feedbacks from users. Collecting data being one of the top priorities for city transport authorities, they use transport ticketing systems, traffic counts and household satisfaction surveys as sources for these precious figures. The city is encouraging collaboration with third parties by, among other things, offering funds via a competition for developers who provide impactful solutions and ideas around mobility. External collaboration can reach, on a project-by-project basis, universities and different national research bodies.

                         Abuja                                        Johannesburg                                     Nairobi

The situation is a slightly different in Nairobi, Kenya, as it is facing a fragmentation of data collection mechanisms of public transport services. The city has taken concrete steps to meet the mobility challenges it is facing, the first action being the creation of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority. With an ambitious goal to reduce the capital’s rising congestion level and it will do so by managing the development of a Mass Rapid Transit System Strategy.

The challenges faced in the three UMii cities of Africa are important and address different transport priorities, but authorities are taking the right approach to improve the transport system and bring concrete solutions to their citizens.

Read the full UMii Final Report here!

Read about our biggest training parntership in the Africa region so far, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in collaberation with Addis Ababa City Roads Authority.

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