Thinking & Analysis

A study on three innovations has reveals positive and negative barriers to the decarbonisation of transport systems in the global South in the context of Africa.

Academics from the science policy research unit published a recent finding which centred on the drivers and barriers supported by three innovations—automated vehicles, electric mobility, and ridesharing and bike-sharing—in the four African urban areas of Johannesburg (South Africa), Kigali (Rwanda), Lagos (Nigeria) and Nairobi (Kenya). The study seeks to know: the drivers behind these innovations in these regions, the potential barriers, and what implications for policy or sustainability transitions emerge.

The study established from a critical analysis of the academic literature, the authors argue that these innovations are deeply significant at feeding into low-carbon transitions for the transport sector, even though low-carbon development is an important topic that is under-researched in many developing economies.

The academics begins by proposing the three innovations on automated vehicles, electric mobility, and ridesharing and bike-sharing and justifying our case studies. The study finds that the likely merit of three innovations stands only entwined against negative barriers; no innovation is purely positive or negative, and they all have multiple dimensions of positivity and negativity. Moreover, even though the study has treated each of the three innovations as fairly isolated from one another, there are emergent (and potentially strong) couplings or entanglements between them, e.g. between electrification and two-wheelers or automation and ridesharing.

Although in a few circumstances, incrementalism, hybridisation and leapfrogging are seen as positive attributes and desirable characteristics of planning and technology adoption that could be an instrument in that region.

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