Experts converge in Accra to seek ways of improving Africa’s road safety and mobility

By on 08/28/2018

Accra, 28 August 2018 – Over 100 participants drawn from nearly 20 African countries and other partners recently gathered in the Ghanaian capital Accra to mull ways of curbing the runaway road accidents- as well as the attendant mortality- and to improve urban mobility on the continent.

The meeting was held against the milieu that every year, road crashes are estimated to claim over 300,000 lives in Africa. According to WHO, the African region has 2 per cent of the world’s registered vehicles but a disproportionate 16 per cent of the world’s road traffic deaths. Road traffic fatalities are estimated to be the fourth leading cause of death of persons aged 5 through 44 years.

To share experience in improving road safety, over 100 participants representing nearly 20 African Government Ministries of Infrastructure/Transport, National Road Safety Authorities and Councils, African sub-regional and regional organizations, international organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), academic and research institutions, and the private sector attended the two-day workshop on Road Safety and Urban Mobility.

The workshop was hosted by the Government of Ghana, with support of the Secretariat of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Mr. Jean Todt, and former UN Secretary-General the late Kofi Annan inspired the workshop. Mr. Annan was one of the expected participants, but this was not to be for the former SG was indisposed and passed on immediately before the event. who had intended to participate in the meeting before his sudden illness caused him to cancel his trip to Ghana. Consequently, the workshop began with a moment of silence in respect for Mr. Annan and in sympathy with his family at his recent passing.

“I shared with him the plight this great continent faces in terms of road safety and he, as expected, was ready to help make a difference… I am honored to carry on his legacy through the outcomes of this workshop and in our continued work towards improved road safety in his country and region” says Mr. Todt on Mr. Kofi Annan’s desire to end road deaths in Africa.

The workshop underscored the linkages between growing urbanization and expected rise in the number of road traffic fatalities in the region. It was opened by Mr. Todt, Ghana’s Minister of Transport, Mr. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, and the World Bank Country Director, Mr. Henry Kerali.

“We are fortunate that in the last few years the world has come together with a vision to tackle road safety in the Sustainable Development Goals, with specific targets under SDG 3.6 to reduce road fatalities, and improving access to safe transport systems under SDG 11.2”, said Ms. Stefanie Holzwarth of the Urban Mobility Unit at UN-Habitat.

She added: to develop action plans, that help us translate these global goals into transformative implementation projects. The New Urban Agenda provides the framework for cities for the next 20 years and helps to localize these global goals”. Participants at the workshop were assessing how to better integrate safe urban mobility within existing road safety frameworks and discussing how to incorporate road safety into urban planning and infrastructure development process. They were sharing good practices, evidence-based solutions, progress and challenges, considering the UN road transport and road safety related legal instruments, in support of the achievement of SDG targets 11.2 and 3.6.

Of the 1.3 million global road traffic fatalities every year , more than half are accounted for in urban areas. Road traffic fatalities are estimated to be the fourth leading cause of death globally of persons aged 5 through 44 years. There are several issues that affect the road safety situation in a country, including quality of road infrastructure, level of law enforcement, safety of vehicles, road user behaviors and post-crash care. In the urban area, it is critical to address the safety of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, children and motorcyclists.

To provide a “How-To-Guide” to local and national governments, UN-Habitat, in collaboration with ITDP, recently developed a Toolkit on “Streets for walking & cycling – designing for safety, accessibility and comfort in African cities” that was disseminated during the workshop.

The involved international organizations will continue to work with African governments to address the challenge of road safety and urban mobility and support them to meet their commitments to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda.

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