Over 100 participants representing 20 African countries have converged in Accra, Ghana to share experiences on improving road safety and reducing road accidents across Africa, at a 2- day workshop on Road Safety and Urban Mobility.
The workshop was inspired by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Mr. Jean Todt, and former UN Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan, who had intended to participate in the meeting before his sudden illness caused him to cancel his trip to Ghana.
The meeting on Monday began with a moment of silence in respect for Mr. Annan and in sympathy with his family at his recent passing.
The workshop underscored the linkages between growing urbanisation and expected rise in the number of road traffic fatalities in the region.
Participants at the workshop are assessing how to better integrate safe urban mobility within existing road safety frameworks and discussing how to incorporate road safety into urban planning and infrastructure development process.
Of the 1.3 million road traffic fatalities every year globally, more than half are accounted for in urban areas.
Road traffic fatalities are estimated to be the fourth leading cause of death globally of persons aged 5 through 44 years.
Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ms. Vera Songwe, highlighted that safety needs to be “built into” infrastructure investment, as this is far less costly than retrofitting roads afterwards to be safer.
In addition to physical infrastructure, the UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock, emphasized the need to improve coordination among government agencies, to reduce corruption, and to enforce existing safety regulations and traffic laws.
She also suggested that the most significant sign of respect from the regional workshop to the former UN Secretary-General would be “the seriousness with which we take up this life-and-death topic and the commitments we follow through to improve road safety and urban development.”
The regional workshop, hosted by the Government of Ghana in partnership with the United Nations is designed to support Governments in meeting their commitments to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.
Reducing road fatalities is specific target under Goal 3 to improve health and well-being, and improving access to safe transport systems is specific target under Goal 11 to ensure inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.