STORIES OF NEW MOBILITY INITIATIVES IN AFRICA : Successes, Failures and Work in Progress

Dear African friends and colleagues,

I’m in the process of trying to gather my thoughts on a book bringing together a collection of lively real world stories of attempted new mobility — what I like to think of as “pattern break”) – projects that have been carried out in cities and areas in a dozen or so African countries. I want to emphasize here the choice of the word “stories” as opposed to when we hear more often in the literature, titles such as “case studies” or “best practices”. I think it is important to try to reach in and understand (Anyway, I do not believe in the concept of “best practices”, and tend to prefer the less blatant wording of better practices.)

So far at this early point I am simply beginning to organize my thoughts on this — and thinking about it struck me that a great way to start in before I am too tightly nailed down to any of the details on this — would be to reach out and invite contributions and discussions on eventual case studies, possible contributing authors, and in general matters such as format and method for the project as a whole. I very much want to the book to the engaging and readable, including by people who don’t think all that much about transportation, and when it is appropriate human and warm, humorous and understanding. And above all very African (which explains why I’m looking around for health and wisdom on that.)

My rough work plan is that the book would appear toward the end of this year as a special issue of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice, where we have considerable experience with these Special Issues. But this time would like to take it a step further.

So, I am starting to shop around for a sponsor and have already had some encouraging responses. I might further add here that one of the reasons I’m looking for sponsorship is that I’m hoping to pay a modest honorarium to my co-authors and contributors. It seems only fair (and I have to wonder why more people and projects don’t do it.)

So as to the basic pillars which define the project, let me say we start with climate, and from there to transport, innovation and society. In addition, I feel very strongly that the volume should also bring in the perspective and contributions some of our excellent female colleagues as authors, while at the same time being quietly insistent on looking at each of these case studies through the lens of the requirements and aspirations of African women and girls.

So please consider this just the first informal outreach to my African colleagues and friends, in the hope that some of you may be sufficiently interested to get in touch via email – — so that we can start to swap ideas on what I hope will be a very different kind of book about challenges, innovations and equity in the world’s oldest and youngest, second-largest and second most-populous continent. A part of the world with fastest growing population, with already one-third of the population living in cities, most of whom in slums, car ownership and traffic exploding, highest rate of road fatalities and with a flow of people from the countryside continuing at record rates . . . a region in sharp transition. But to what?

Let’s do something completely different.

Eric Britton, Editor

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