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Transportation, Bicycles & Development In Africa: Progression Or Regression

"Transportation, Bicycles And Development In Africa: Progression or Regression," by David Mozer, argues that one issue that need more attention in subĀ­Saharan Africa is mobility. In rural areas, farming is done on small plots, often a distance from where farmers live. Over these distances loads of inputs and outputs are head and back carried, primarily by women. Delivering services, such as agricultural extension, adult literacy and health care are also obstructed by a lack of mobility. In urban areas a large percentage of people live below the poverty level. They must get to work, school, medical services and markets. In evaluating the issue of mobility, Mozer considers the role of the bicycle.

Mozer writes, "To the limited extent that bicycles have been introduced into the structure of transportation in Africa, women generally have been excluded from access to the benefits. Exception include Burkina Faso and the isolated city of Maroua, Cameroon. African tradition puts an inordinate burden on women as the primary haulers of fuel, water, food and babies, and guardians of the health care of children. Yet "tradition" seems to have extended to them the least benefits from new technologies, including the wheel and labor saving transport as basic as the bicycle."

"Transportation, Bicycles And Development In Africa: Progression or Regression" is available for US$2.00, 17 pages. To order, write to the International Bicycle Fund, 4887 Columbia Drive South, Seattle, WA 98108 (include US$1 for postage and handling in North America, US$2 for postage and handling to other continents.)  We accept payment by credit card and through Paypal (direct payment to "ibike@" our domain name).

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Transportation And Development
  3. Transportation In Africa
  4. Bicycle Transportation In Africa
  5. Urban Bicycle Transportation
  6. Multi-modal Transportation
  7. Women And Transportation
  8. Transportation And The Environment
  9. Transportation Policy
  10. The (Bicycle) Course To Success

Addendum

  1. World Bank Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Program
  2. Reference Manual For Developing Countries

Introduction

Africa suffers from a host of problems: The continent is primarily rural. Most agriculture is done on small plots, often a distance from where the farmer lives. Distances are vast. Delivering services, such as agricultural extension, adult literacy courses and rural health care, is a problem. In urban area a large percentage of the people live below the poverty level but they still must get to employment, education, medical services, markets, etc.

Strategies and tools are needed to move underdeveloped, largely impoverished Africa into a healthier, more productive, more prosperous and sustainable society.

In the process of development we must:

  • minimize the destruction of the natural environment
  • reduce demand for foreign exchange
  • increase employment
  • increase business productivity
  • increase opportunities for trade
  • increase opportunities for private enterprise
  • increase access to health care
  • increase delivery of health care
  • reduce urban congestion
  • reduce urban air pollution
  • reduce urban noise pollution
  • reduce dependency on petroleum
  • minimize energy consumption
  • minimize mineral consumption
  • increase the delivery of extension services
  • increase personal time for self improvement or community involvement
  • increase access to education
  • increase general mobility.

The bicycle is consistent with these goals and constraints. How can it be used?

Transportation And Development

Transportation is not an end in itself but an important means to other ends: economic, educational, social and personal. Transportation is a link to opportunity. It links workers to places of employment, producers to users of goods and services, students to schools, patients to health care, and everyone to family and friends.

In the Third World in general and Africa in particular, transportation alternatives are not as specialized or differentiated, hence efficient, as their counterparts in more industrialized countries. As a consequence, efforts to improve economic and social conditions, which have a transportation component, as most do, are less efficient and the breadth of opportunities is more restricted.

Limited access to transportation, whether it is physical or financial, restricts access to the best possible life. Conversely, improved access to transportation, especially for the poor, can improve employment prospects, reduce the money and time spent getting to jobs and schools or hauling fuel and water, reduce the costs of inputs for small-scale enterprise activities and increase access to markets for products. In short, constraints on mobility are constraints on development. Transportation must be considered as an element of development at the most basic level.

Yet not all transport is created equal. Urban areas around the world have demonstrated that while improving opportunities for private automobiles has a benefit to the newest driver, it has a cost to all other drivers, non-drivers, energy conservation, resource reserves, balance of payment and the environment. The solution is more complicated than just providing wider roads, expansive parking lots and give everybody a motor vehicle. 

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The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of  four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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