Unleashing Africa's Sustainable Urban Mobility Future through Global Knowledge Exchange and Collaboration
Strategic collaboration and a steadfast commitment to sustainable urban mobility took center stage at the UITP Global Summit 2023. One of the standout activities of the summit was the peer-to-peer knowledge exchange workshop entitled "Public transport governance, integration, and paratransit capacity building: Lessons from Africa and Latin America." Organized and funded by the European Commission (EC) with the technical support and collaboration of the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), World Bank, MobiliseYourCity (MYC), and EuroClima, the two-day workshop, held on June 6-7, 2023, convened 40 local and national government representatives from Africa and Latin America to share experiences, foster networking and learn from active public transport projects. The global summit also provided an invaluable opportunity to empower and capacitate the recently formed African Association of Urban Mobility Authorities (AAUMA), several of whose Executive Committee members formed part of the African delegation, in a dedicated meeting entitled “AAUMA Day,” which took place on June 8, 2023. Ultimately drawing in approximately 2,000 participants, the UITP summit provided an exceptional platform for disseminating the World Bank and SSATP’s latest urban mobility knowledge products and engaging with key partners and stakeholders at the EC-sponsored Global Gateway booth.
Learning from the experiences of African and Latin American cities
As part of the formal UITP Summit program, the two-day knowledge exchange workshop kicked off with a plenary session on urban mobility governance and institutions. The session highlighted experiences from Africa and Latin America, with panel discussants from Lagos, Nigeria; Bogota, Colombia; Dakar, Senegal; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Maputo, Mozambique. Panelists discussed the intricacies of urban mobility governance and institutions, offering compelling examples of successful implementations, in addition to underscoring the vital importance of urban transport authorities having a sound legal basis and clear objectives, robust business plans, and sufficient technical and financial resources. During the discussions, the importance of using a progressive approach to establish urban transport authorities and, most importantly, deliver visible results emerged as a cornerstone for asserting and strengthening an institution’s credibility.
The second day of workshop unfolded at the distinguished Barcelona School of Civil Engineering where delegates had the opportunity to participate in sessions covering (i) paratransit capacity building and fleet renewal programs, (ii) public transport system integration and sector reforms, and (iii) strategies to accelerate electric mobility. During the first session focused on paratransit capacity building and fleet renewal programs (video recording), delegates from cities in Latin America and Africa shared experiences on how to professionalize informal transport, drawing on important lessons learned in sustaining reforms over time, access to financing for bus renewal and working capital, and the role of government. Discussions highlighted the experiences of cities like Dakar, where a fleet renewal program and a capacity-building initiative have provided an opportunity for the informal transport sector to become a partner for change. The second session delved into the topic of public transport system integration and paratransit sector reforms (video recording) based on global good practices. It showcased the experience of Bogota in developing paratransit integration strategies, including public transport planning, network design, operation, and tariff integration. The session underscored the importance of user-centric planning, ensuring reliable, quick, and secure services for users, and improving the overall functionality and competitiveness of cities. During the final workshop session focused on strategies to accelerate electric mobility (video recording), Dr. Miquel Romeu, Associate professor at the University Polytechnic of Catalonia, made a presentation on the electric vehicles global market and barriers to entry in the global south. The participants also learned from the findings of a recent report on the economics of e-mobility in the global south and discussed the challenges and opportunities of e-vehicles uptake. The discussions highlighted the opportunity for e-buses and two and three e-wheels uptake to promote electromobility in the global south, including the need to develop relevant infrastructure and smart charging strategies.
Overall, the workshop combined enriching presentations with engaging panel discussions between multilateral development banks, local and national governments, and academics. This diverse array of perspectives fostered dynamic exchanges on the pressing issues confronting cities. Coming out of the workshop, the resolute commitment of African and Latin American cities to further pursue south-south experience exchanges was palpable. Indeed, the knowledge exchange served as a powerful testament to the pressing need for unwavering support in urban mobility governance and paratransit professionalization across Africa and Latin America.
A day dedicated to the African Association of Urban Mobility Authorities (AAUMA)
The UITP Summit also conferred the opportunity to host an “AAUMA Day,” technical meetings between the Barcelona Urban Transport Authority (UTA) and AAUMA Executive Committee members. Organized in collaboration with SSATP, the World Bank, and the EC’S Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA), AAUMA Day offered a platform for strategic exchanges aimed at elevating urban mobility across Africa.
Held on June 8, 2023, at the premises of the Barcelona Metropolitan Urban Authority, the day commenced with a warm welcome and presentation by the Barcelona UTA, showcasing their initiatives and achievements in advancing urban mobility within the city. The President of AAUMA also took the floor, presenting the association's vision and objectives for improving urban mobility in African cities. Emphasizing the strategic importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing, the presentation laid the groundwork for engaging discussions between AAUMA and Barcelona UTA. Continuing the dialogue, avenues of cooperation were explored in-depth, seeking synergies between AAUMA's expertise in African urban mobility challenges and Barcelona UTA's successful experiences in fostering sustainable transport solutions. This strategic convergence of vision and expertise paved the way for potential partnerships that hold promise for the advancement of urban mobility across African cities.
In the afternoon, AAUMA members held an Executive Committee meeting to review progress on the association’s priority action plan activities. During the meeting, SSATP presented an update on its support to AAUMA, and its members validated the job description for hiring an executive secretary, a crucial step towards enhancing the association's administrative capacities and strategic focus. Looking ahead, preparing a regional workshop slated for November 2023 in Lagos was also on the agenda, signaling the association's intent to extend its knowledge-sharing endeavors. The meeting concluded on a resolute note, reaffirming the shared vision and strategic commitment of AAUMA to foster sustainable urban mobility across Africa.
SSATP in focus at the European Commission's Global Gateway Booth