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Africa’s Road Safety Data Challenge

Lack of accurate and complete road safety data

Effective action to mitigate Africa’s road safety crisis can be taken if it is targeted and measured with accurate data - a necessary condition for designing and implementing good policy. However, African countries face many challenges when it comes to collecting data on road traffic fatalities.

There are large discrepancies between the number of officially reported deaths and the estimates presented by the World Health Organization (WHO). Little or no data is available on road safety performance indicators. And, due to the lack of coordination on the definition and number of variables collected, it is impossible to do comparisons across the region. This leaves decision makers with an inaccurate picture of Africa’s road safety situation.

WHO estimates are 4 times higher
than officially reported road deaths in Africa
23 African countries
use the internationally accepted 30-day fatality definition
Less than 50% of African countries
have operational national crash database systems

AU's Response

Improving the quality of road safety data

Under the auspices of the African Union, and in accordance with the Africa Road Safety Charter, the African Road Safety Observatory (ARSO) initiative was launched in 2018. With the ultimate goal of building a robust body of data that can be used to monitor Africa’s road safety performance and improve decision making, ARSO is working to harmonize road safety indicators across all countries in Africa. 

Serving as a tool to help countries expedite the organization of their national observatories, ARSO brings together government representatives and road safety experts in the transport and health sectors to decide on key governance issues and priorities for data improvement, as well as to exchange knowledge, share best practices and scale up effective policies across the region. 

By uniting their activities to systematically collect, analyze, and share reliable road crash data, ARSO bolsters the efforts of African countries to reduce fatalities on the road.

Since its inception, the observatory has benefited from the support of the World Bank, the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF, funded by UKAid and TOTAL Foundation), as well as close collaboration with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the International Transport Forum (ITF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

ARSO Partners


Eng. Bencaer Boulaajoul


motorcyclists riding in front of a hospital

Towards Safer Roads in Africa

Leveraging data-driven decision making to drive road safety action

A Transitional Steering Committee made up of ARSO member countries and partners is currently overseeing the implementation of the observatory's work plan for 2019-2021, which is built around six priority areas:

  1. Developing a network of road safety leaders in Africa, including data and policy professionals.
  2. Improving tools and methodologies for collecting vital registration, road crash, and other safety data. 
  3. Monitoring intermediate safety performance indicators.
  4. Creating, updating, and maintaining the observatory’s road safety database system.
  5. Conducting research on the costs and impacts of road crashes.
  6. Publishing and disseminating road safety reports.

As of today, ARSO member countries have reached an agreement on the minimum harmonized indicators to monitor and collected population data, and the observatory's First General Assembly was held in Durban, South Africa on June 27-28, 2019. Later this year, ARSO intends to produce its first regional report.

Featured Publication

Guide for Road Safety Opportunities and Challenges: Low- and Middle-income Country Profiles. This report gives a precise assessment on the magnitude and complexity of road safety challenges faced by low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and helps policy makers understand the road safety framework within the context of their own country systems and performance. It also helps countries build and appreciate the business case for vital road safety investment.

Road Safety Knowledge Repository

Learning from experience and good practice

One of ARSO’s main goals is to build the capacity of countries to effectively manage their road safety data. By partnering with the World Bank, WHO, SSATP, FIA, and ITF´s International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group (IRTAD), the African Road Safety Observatory aims to ensure that sound data management processes and policies are implemented at the national, regional, and continental levels.

Its primary channels for sharing knowledge, lessons learned, and good practices on the ground are through publications and training workshops. These are not only relevant to the region, but also for countries seeking to improve the quantity, variety, reliability and usefulness of their road safety data.

Since 2018, the observatory has organized multiple stakeholder workshops, and produced and compiled key materials related to road safety data, indicators, data systems and analyses. This webpage serves as a repository for this knowledge.

Africa Status Report on Road Safety 2020

The status report summarizes the findings of the first original data collection effort for road…

Road Safety Data in Africa: A Proposed Minimum Set of Road Safety Indicators for Data Collection,…

The report covers the process that was undertaken to develop a set of harmonized road safety…

Understanding and Bridging the Differences Between Country-reported and WHO-estimated Road Traffic…

This document attempts to explain the disparity between WHO estimates and country-reported data on…

Latest News & Events

The African Union Commission hosts the 2nd General Assembly of the African Road Safety Observatory…

March 22, 2022 

The African Road Safety Observatory (ARSO) is one of the main achievements of the African Road Safety Agenda over the 2011-2020 decade. The objective of ARSO is to foster national, international and…

2nd Global Meeting of Regional Road Safety Observatories

November 30, 2021 

  November 30-December 1, 2021 @ 1:00-4:00pm CET ︎(Paris) See the complete Event Program Register Here The Network of regional Road Safety Observatories (RSO) is a global forum on road safety…

Addis Ababa
3rd Multi-Country Workshop on Improving Civil Registration and Vital Statistics: Mortality from…

December 10, 2019 

This document summarizes attendees agenda and outcomes of the 3rd joint workshop between WHO and ARSO to address the discrepancies between police-reported and vital registration derived road fatality…