A new report by the World Bank has drawn attention to the failing transport sector present in African cities. To reverse the failure, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho is calling for a increased investment in the sector. Building cost-efficient, high-quality transport links in Africa’s urban centres will boost growth and development, argues the Angolan businessman.
Most African cities currently rely on informal transit systems, most based around minibus networks. These systems are expensive, have a low passenger capacity and cannot be scaled up. Dr Sobrinho points out that “one-third of commuter trips in Lagos, Dakar, Addis Ababa, [and] Dar es Salaam are made by foot”. This reality, he argues, prevents residents of these cities from finding work and forces employers to pay higher wages in order to cover the transport costs.
On top of the social costs imposed by a failing transport sector there are huge environmental and health costs. The OECD estimates 700,000 people a year die from air pollution in Africa, while 13% of global green house gas emissions are derived from transportation. Therefore, Dr Sobrinho calls for the creation of “cost-efficient, reliable, and low-carbon transport infrastructure” across Africa.
To fund the design and construction of the new system, Dr Sobrinho suggests using Green Bonds. These bonds are offered by the World Bank and specifically intended for investments designed to mitigate climate change or help communities to adapt to the existing impacts. Using this method of financing, Africa cities can build “low-carbon alternatives to the motorised transport that dominate their roads”, believes Sobrinho.
Success will mean a boost for economic growth, a boost for urbanisation and bright future for Africa’s growing cities.