Another day in morning traffic in Lagos


Stories of New Mobility Projects in Africa: Successes, Failures and Work in Progress

World Streets. Paris. 21 April 2018

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 rural 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 .


  • Wide coverage of Africa, from North to South, and East to West.
  • Rural as well as urban projects
  • Full gender parity: 50% of the contributors female
  • 50% of projects reporting on women’s mobility  issues and needs
  • Drawing lessons from successes, failures and work in progress

My rough work plan at this early point is that the book will appear toward the end of this year as a special issue of the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice, where since 1995 we have considerable experience with these Special Issues. But this time I would like to take it a step further.

So to get the ball rolling, I am starting to shop around for a sponsor with deep interests and commitments to well-being in Africa: climate issues, transport, public health, and equity — and have already had some encouraging responses. I might further add here that one of the reasons we are looking for sponsorship is that we are hoping to pay a modest honorarium to our 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,  we start with climate — THE highest priority public policy issue today —  and from there on 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. Similarly we are going to stretch for equal coverage mobility challenges in both the exploding cities and the needs of people for better day to day transport in rural areas.

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

# # #

Initial sources of information on this collaborative project

And this is only the beginning.

# # #

ws-small-words-2World Streets publications: We intend to publish on World Streets advanced drafts of the chapters one by one when they are ready for international peer review. In this way we will not only be able to share this good work early for our 7,000-plus readers in 149 countries, but also profit from their feedback and discussions.

* * *  In this first week following the outreach for this collaborative project we have thus far heard from colleagues in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Zambia, though at this point these are just exploratory conversations. We hope to have at least ten telling and informative stories, hopefully more.  Stay tuned.  * * *

# # #

Get in touch:  E.  Skype. newmobility  T. +336 5088 0787

# # #

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | | #fekbritton | | and | Contact: | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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  1. Pingback: Africa Streets and MOBILIZE, Dar es Salaam, 26-28 June 2018 | Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy

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