In 1900, only five percent of sub-Saharan Africans lived in urban areas; today that number is nearly 45 percent. Africa is the world’s most rapidly urbanizing continent, yet transportation planning has not kept pace with these changes. Most of the continent’s transportation-related development funds have gone toward road construction, even though the vast majority of Africans (ranging from 80 percent in South Africa to 99.8 percent in Togo) do not own cars. Despite the need, most Africans must rely on inconsistent, informal, and often dangerous modes of transport.
ITDP began work in South Africa in the late 1990’s by bringing used bicycles and building small enterprise around bicycles dealers in townships, this effort expanded to bring in new bicycles while continuing to develop enterprise thorough Access Africa, these efforts continue today. In Johannesburg and Cape Town, ITDP has been assisting the governments with the implementation of Africa’s first world-class bus rapid transit (BRT), Rea Vaya in Jo’burg. ITDP has worked with the governments of Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as with the minibus taxi leadership in each of these cities, to formalize the operators into a new BRT, transforming potential adversaries into key allies. This transformation helps not only to quell the violence of an industry fearing obsolescence, but also brings a historically disadvantaged industry into the formal sector, where they can become competitive throughout Africa. The BRT projects in South Africa have also been instrumental at redressing apartheid-era spatial planning and reconnecting previously isolated townships with vibrant city centers.