In 2010, Africa’s population was 36% urban, but by 2030, that share is projected to increase to 50%. By 2050, 60% of people in Africa will live in cities. More than any region in the world, Africa has experienced a soaring urban growth rate over the past two decades – nearly 3.5% per year – and projections expect this rate to continue for decades to come. Unfortunately, this rapid urban expansion has not been coupled with improvements to cities’ services and infrastructure- especially in transit. Thus far, most of the continent’s transportation-related investment has gone toward road construction, despite the fact that the vast majority of Africans do not own cars. Instead, most Africans must rely on inconsistent, informal, and often dangerous modes of public transport. This lack of investment in mobility services has hampered equitable growth and resulted in the proliferation of slums, urban poverty and inequality.
ITDP began working in Africa in the late 1980’s, bringing bicycles to midwives, health workers and women farmers in Mozambique to improve their mobility and productivity. In addition, ITDP began building small enterprises distributing used bicycles in South African townships. This effort expanded to bringing in new bicycles while continuing to support the development of local businesses through the Access Africa program.
Since then, ITDP’s work has expanded across the African continent, assisting governments with the implementation of high-quality BRT, bike networks and pedestrian projects. ITDP played a pivotal role in the implementation of Johannesburg’s silver-standard Rea Vaya BRT corridors and in Cape Town’s bronze-standard MyCiTi BRT, and continues to support the expansion of both systems. ITDP was also instrumental in starting and supporting the development of Dar es Salaam’s BRT, now under construction, and set to open in 2015 as Africa’s first gold-standard BRT. ITDP is also actively involved in BRT planning in Nairobi and Kampala, assisting with the service planning, infrastructure review, business structure and the taxi transition strategies.