Unregulated Vehicle Ownership and Rapid Urbanization slowing Down Africa’s Economic Growth, Experts Warn

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Several countries across Africa have seen their economies take a major blow due to unregulated vehicle ownership and unchecked urbanization. While the two things are usually signs of economic growth, they have been known to come with disadvantages.

According to a World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) initiative dubbed the Road Safety Leadership Program, road accidents experienced across many African cities have a knock on effect on the countries’ economies.

The second Road Safety Leadership Program, organized by the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), an international partnership hosted by the World Bank, in collaboration with the AfDB, kicked off at the Bank’s Headquarters in Abidjan this February.

Established in 1987, the Africa Transport Policy Program is an international partnership of 41 African countries, public and private sector organizations, and international development agencies. The recently-concluded 2019 edition of the program, intends to develop leadership capabilities in road safety planning, implementation, management, and operations.

The program – which was attended by senior representatives of African ministries and national road safety agencies from Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe – seeks to ultimately help reduce the number of road crashes on African roads.

The experts believe the socio-economic impacts of vehicle ownership and rapid urbanization are harming the continent’s development. In Nigeria, for example, economic loss caused by road crashes is estimated at 3% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

GDP measures the value of economic activity within a country. As such, GDP is the sum of the market values, or prices, of all final goods and services produced in an economy during a period of time.

For Morocco, the GDP loss due to road crashes is estimated at 2.5%. Nearly 50% of the victims are pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists, who are exposed to multiple hazards and often chaotic conditions on Africa’s roads. As such, both the SSATP and the African Development Bank recognise the need for investment in sustainable road safety facilities.

“Our contribution to this important SSATP event is an effective way for the Bank to engage with its regional member countries to bring about positive changes and sustainable effects which contribute to Africa’s development and improve the lives of African people,” said Girma Bezabeh, Road Safety Specialist at the African Development Bank.

“More than 300,000 people lose their lives every year on the roads of Africa and the situation is getting worse,” commented Tawia Addo-Ashong, Senior Transport and Road Safety Specialist at the SSATP.

“The Road Safety Leadership Program can help to strengthen the region’s capacity for handling road safety challenges while building a network of peers and champions who can advocate for, and support, road safety interventions at the regional, national and municipal levels,” she said.

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