High Volume Transport

Vital transport research to ensure accessible, affordable and climate friendly transport for all.

HVT hosts pre-conference to first African Transport Research Conference in Cape Town

Over 100 academics, practitioners and researchers came together to present and discuss the latest HVT research into inclusive and climate resilient transport infrastructures in Africa at a one-day pre-conference to the African Transport Research Conference. The event highlighted HVT’s work across the continent, including key areas such as the role of data, developing climate resilient solutions for African cities, inclusive transport planning, and innovations for future change.

Entitled Powering Change: Exploring the latest research for developing infrastructures in Africa that are resilient, greener and inclusive, the event involved presentations, research briefings and panel discussions, as well as question and answer sessions with transport experts and deep dives into examples of research being used in African cities.

Through sharing insights and best practices, HVT aims to facilitate the development of innovative and effective transport infrastructures that promote economic growth while mitigating environmental impacts, crucial factors in addressing the continent’s evolving needs.

“It was mind-blowing to see how many things can be done through research for the future of transport in Africa” said Chinenye Okafor, a humanities researcher from the Lagos State University, Nigeria. “We are going to look at how we can collaborate with some of the researchers who presented today “.

The day was punctuated by sessions addressing distinct challenges. The first of these, introduced by transport research consultant Gail Jennings, was the role of evidence and data. Many sub-Saharan African (SSA) cities have limited access to data about people’s movements and modes of transport because they lack adequate funding and capacity to obtain it. Gail introduced three projects doing innovative work around gathering and using data:

The next session explored how economic growth in African countries – historically amongst the lowest contributors of carbon emissions – can continue without emissions increasing, and asked whether, rather than Africa’s need for improved mobility presenting a threat to the environment, it could be an opportunity, by identifying new and better ways to develop low-carbon transport pathways. HVT supports a number of key projects addressing this central theme of equipping LICs with the tools necessary to deliver sustainable transport systems, including:

The future of transport in Africa took centre stage at the next session, with Gary Haq of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) asking: is there also an opportunity to leap-frog transport approaches already becoming out-dated in the global north and see Africa lead the way with new technologies and new thinking? Five quick presentations gave a snapshot of research exploring the essential modes of transport in Africa, opportunities for the future, and the potential to make these possible:

As current transport systems come under strain from climate change, it’s the disadvantaged groups such as the old, disabled, and women and girls who suffer the most with transport that does not meet their needs. A just transition in urban transport means making changes that reduce carbon emissions but at the same time combat existing inequalities. The last session of the day set out to explore why and how the move towards greener, resilient transport must be a ‘just’ transition.

Bright Oywaya, disability advocate, Executive Director of ASIRT Kenya and herself a wheelchair user, gave the keynote speech, drawing on her own experience as a person with disabilities (PWD). She stressed that transport policy is not inclusive, huge gaps exist between policy and implementation leading to a lack of accessible infrastructure and a serious lack of understanding of the needs of PWDs. To break through these barriers, LICs must:

Availability, accessibility, affordability and safety are key, she said. Accessibility should not be an accessory, but must be part of the main transport system.

Two HVT projects seek to counter Bright’s overview of the lack of accessibility in African cities:

Climate change particularly affects the most vulnerable so there is a pressing need to improve climate resilient development that takes into account the needs of these marginalised groups. The project  Using Creative Participatory Approaches for Inclusive Climate Resilient Transport in Africa.,SEI and the University of York, guides transport decision makers and planners to understand the application and use of various creative participatory tools. The tools have been used in training events with representatives of PWDs as well as transport planners and politicians in cities including Lusaka and Kampala.

Finally, one of HVT’s most impactful projects addresses sexual harassment on public transport, a well documented problem across Africa and the world. Highlighting concerns around women’s safety and security, the EMPOWER project’s SHE-CAN tool assists policy makers and transport providers to collect data on the sexual harassment women suffer on public transport in their cities.

Oluwaseun Sonoiki, Legal Counsel at Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority – LAMATA described the uptake of the tool in Lagos, where it has led directly to the installation of 2000 CCTV cameras and the development of a gender equality and policy plan at LAMATA. The project is ongoing and is currently in its second phase.