African countries urged to invest in smart transport infrastructure

By Beatrice Obwocha

African countries have been urged to invest in smart transport infrastructure to boost economic growth.

Speakers at the first smart transport infrastructure summit held in Dar Es Salaam Tanzania called for a shift from expanding roads by adding lanes to investing in public transport that efficiently transports more people.

Prof. Thobias Sando from the University of North Florida, USA told participants that constructing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is one way to create sustainable public transport.

“We cannot have meaningful development in we do not invest in infrastructure, that includes smart transport infrastructure,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by PTV Africa Managing Dire tor Mr. Charel Schickerling who said there has been a shift in the public transport conversation and people are now talking about mobility as service.

He said e-hailing, car sharing and riding bicycles have increased across the world with companies like Uber and that some countries are offering incentives to people who are using these mode of transportation.

He said the incentives are being given because mobility services are reducing congestion in cities.

Dar Es Salaam Rapid Transit CEO Eng. Dr. Ronald Lwakatare said there has been huge success since the launch of the BR.

“However we have some challenges such as fewer number of buses. Our target is to have 305 buses but we have 140 buses and this shortage at time causes congestion of travelers at stations,” he said.

He said DART is working with partners to ensure smooth transport by maintaining the buses.

Currently, the BRT covers 20.9km but there are expansion plans, that will be done in six phases. The second phase targets to add 20.3 kilometers and, until they attain 141.1 km.

The summit was held to be held at Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam and aimed to transform the transport sector by leveraging innovative policies, practices and technologies.

The goal of the high level Summit, attended by participants from United States of America, France, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, was to share knowledge and thus bring about a political and economic shift to the way Smart Transport infrastructure is viewed. 

The event is sponsored by B&F Global Company Limited (Tanzania) in collaboration with the National Institute of Transport, Tanzanian Ministry of Works Transport and Communication and Dar es Salaam City Council.

Tanzania’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communication Dr. Leonard Chamuriro in his speech at the opening ceremony called for Public-Private Partnership in transport infrastructure improvements.

“It is important to develop vibrant and robust ideas from individual firms and institutions that have experience,” he said.

B&F Global Executive Director Bruno Kinyaga said the challenges on transport infrastructures have been associated with globalization, urbanization, fiscal decentralization and economic transition.

“The challenges of the chaos and disruptions on transport infrastructures cannot be solved without clear coordination of stakeholders together with suitable policies,” he said.