Shrinking the speed at which you move through a city a key to economic empowerment and increasing productivity in a city. In some cities a commute is more integral to your day than time with your family. It is a game of cat and mouse trying to beat the commute where it can be 30 minutes at off peak times and 2 , mostly idle, hours at peak times.
My friends who live in Nairobi have to wake up at 4am to get to work on time, their commute has become the center of how they plan their day. Travel times not only decrease your economic productivity but also dictates where and how you live your life.
In places like Kinshasa, it is even worse. With no functioning public transportation network you have to be wealthy enough to afford your own vehicle or you’re limited to your own two feet.
I have had the opportunity to travel and live in first world cities and see how good transportation can shrink the commute that would take 2 hours in a city like Lagos to 10 minutes in a city like London. With these times you bring the entire city to your doorstep.
The model of hyper expensive subways are unrealistic in the African context. Cities are exploding and this negates the improvements. There needs to be a re-imagination of the commute that does not put us in increasing debt and takes 10 years to make incremental progress.
I am a technologist and I feel like the solution once we find, will be simple in retrospect. With both time and economic barriers to the status quo, we need to question every assumption along the way, break away from the crisis of inspiration, the future of commute in African cities will look less and less like New York.
At SafeMotos we generate a lot of data that we start to see interesting patterns, patterns that evolve with the city. In Kinshasa robots direct traffic, nevertheless, android smartphones cost less than a bottle of wine at a restaurant and data is increasingly cheaper. We are the custodians of data and would like to work with strategic thinkers who can take these insights to the decision making rooms for urban planning, and join the private sector in transforming the commute in our cities.
I am excited to be part of a group of people reimagining the commute in African cities! Share with me your ideas on how to improve commute in African cities in the comments.