Hosted by Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, the 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Knowledge Forum of the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP, an international partnership) concludes today after a week-long deep dive into what it will take to deliver safe, sustainable and efficient transport to the people of Africa. Held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on November 25-29, 2019, this year’s meeting was centred on “Positioning Africa for a Sustainable Post-2020 Road Safety Agenda.”
Considering that SSATP’s Third Development Plan (DP3, SSATP’s multi-year strategy cycle and work program spanning 2015-2020) is coming to an end, this AGM offered a unique platform for all member countries to come together to shape the future of the Africa Transport Policy Program, which aims to address Africa’s most pressing transport challenges and related policy issues.During dedicated sessions, official representatives of SSATP member countries agreed on the priority intervention areas of the Program’s new cycle, the Fourth Development Plan (DP4), spanning 2021-2025.
Over 230 high-level officials and subject matter experts from the ministries of transport of at least 36 SSATP member countries, the donor community, and international and continental organisations gathered for the event. Participants also had the opportunity to attend specialised technical workshops on regional integration, urban transport and mobility, and road safety during which country delegates and transport practitioners shared and learned from each other’s experiences, challenges and good practices.
Hon. Joel Biggie Matiza¸ Zimbabwe’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, inaugurated today’s AGM, which constitutes SSATP’s flagship event, by recognising the critical role that SSATP plays in helping transform Africa’s transport sector into a driver of sustainable development and growth. “African countries should develop effective strategies and policies for an efficient, safe, and sustainable transport,” said Hon. Matiza. “This event has come at a time when our country is embarking on an economic reconstruction agenda that emphasises stabilising the economy, as well as re-engagement with the international community being guided by the Transitional Stabilisation Policy (TSP). The TSP is the strategic development plan towards achieving Vision 2030, which aims to turn Zimbabwe into an upper-middle class economy. Accordingly, SSATP will help Zimbabwe and the African continent strengthen our transport policies and strategies to ensure sustainable transport and facilitate economic growth and poverty reduction.”
However, Africa’s economic growth and sustainable development are at risk as a result of a preventable epidemic. Despite being the least motorised region – with only 2.3% of the world’s vehicles – Africa has the highest road traffic fatality rates in the world: 26.6 per 100,000 population. Every day, 650 people die on Africa’s roads, half which involve vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. The majority of those killed are under the age of 30, and the fatality rate for men is almost twice that for women. This has strong implications for households since males are typically the main breadwinners. At the aggregate level, in the case of Nigeria, the economic loss caused by road crashes is estimated at 3% of the country’s GDP. For Morocco, the GDP loss is estimated at 2.5%.
As the 2011-2020 African Road Safety Action Plan and UN Decade of Action for Road Safety come to an end, positioning the continent for effective road safety action post 2020 is key if Africa is to curb the death toll on its roads and the ensuing socio-economic impacts that are harming the continent’s development. This was the main subject of discussion during the high-level panel on road safety where ministries of transport and parliamentarians from Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe set the stage for actions countries should undertake to ensure progress towards a sustainable post-2020 road safety agenda in Africa.
Recognizing the urgent need to scale up efforts, Benedict Eijbergen, World Bank Practice Manager of the East Africa Transport Unit that hosts SSATP and member of the SSATP Executive Committee, said: “The time for road safety action is now. More than 300,000 people die every year on Africa’s roads, and the situation is getting worse due to increased vehicle ownership and rapid urbanisation. Without sustained action, road traffic crashes are predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. As we recognize the winners of the African Road Safety Observatory’s #Roads4Life Storytelling Contest and their efforts to drive meaningful change in their communities, let us realize that we all have an important role to play in securing Africa’s roads as an engine for sustainable growth, not socio-economic loss.”
By the end of the meetings, delegates recognized the different continental efforts underway to achieve meaningful reform in the transport sector.“The annual meetings not only provided a platform to discuss the continental progress achieved thus far, but also served as a useful forum for sharing knowledge, lessons learned, and reform experiences that are working to transform the face of transport in Africa,” said Paolo Ciccarelli, the representative of SSATP Donors from the European Commission. “While SSATP can facilitate the development of sound transport policies, it is the responsibility of all country delegates here today to take what we learned back home and implement the necessary actions for achieving a safe, sustainable, and reliable transport system for all. Africa needs us all to drive this change.”