Publication - Leapfrogging to Sustainable Transport in Africa

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Leapfrogging to Sustainable Transport in Africa
GIZ and Agora Verkehrswende
Daniel BongardtElisabeth le ClaireFritz VorholzChristian HochfeldVerena KnöllErnst-Benedikt Riehle
Published in
June 2023
All eyes turned to Africa at the COP27 climate conference, held in Egypt in November 2022. This attention was long overdue. Home to 1.4 billion people, Africa is a diverse melting pot of transitioning economies, ecosystems, and societies. In recent decades, its nations have grown and reinvented themselves as they have shifted from developing to emerging countries. In Africa, change

is a proverbial constant, and today this is more visible than ever – in ways both encouraging and concerning.

On the one hand, Africa is home to a vibrant young population that embraces technology and innovation. This, in combination with the continent’s extensive natural resources, has been propelling economic transformation. On the other hand, Africa faces serious structural challenges, multilateral dependencies, and political instability. What is more, although Africa is the least responsible for climate change, its effects endanger livelihoods on the continent like nowhere else. Finally, international crises, geopolitical discord, and disruptions to global supply chains have the potential to negatively impact prosperity, thus putting Africa’s populations at greater risk.

This report aims to bring global attention to an important aspect of the continent’s climate agenda: transforming the mobility of people and goods.

As institutions engaged in the global discussion on sustainable transport – namely, a think tank devoted entirely to the subject (Agora Verkehrswende), and a government agency for international development cooperation (GIZ) – we have observed tremendous growth in international awareness of the urgency of decarbonization since the Paris Agreement of 2015. In the past few months, we saw an unprecedented number of commitments from national governments and cities to decarbonize the transport sector. Companies across the globe have also shown increasing eagerness to advance the cause of sustainability.

In many parts of the world, a clear consensus has emerged concerning the need to reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based mobility. But does this consensus hold true for the African continent, a complex amalgam of nations and urban settlements on the brink of unprecedented growth? How will transport shape the way Africa’s nations face climate change?

The twelve insights that emerged from this process are based on data as well as on subjective assessments. They are a synthesis of perspectives concerning the realities, potentials, and exigencies of transport in Africa, both now and in the future. Of course, in light of the diversity and complexity of the African continent, our findings are necessarily provisional and require further input from African stakeholders.

Accordingly, this paper represents the first step in a longer journey. Our goal is to kick off the discussion not only in Africa but in Europe and on an international scale as well. The climate crisis can only be managed with the engagement of the entire global community. And an Africa that is prosperous, sustainable, and resilient will be crucial to overcoming the challenges that lie ahead.