With estimates in 2018 stating that 24% of direct CO2 emissions were caused by urban transport pollution, against the evidence of climate change, governed by the need to create climate change mitigation strategies, embracing Smart Transport Systems can be viewed imperative to addressing the threats posed by climate change.
According to the 2021 United Nations, Human Habitats coordinated research titled, ‘The role of electric mobility for low carbon and Sustainable Cities’, “the emissions from the transport sector are growing faster and the urge to reduce emissions from the transport sector through alternative green systems, sharing, among other solutions is high.”
“Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector are growing faster than any other energy-end use sector. Conventionally fueled vehicles are also a major source of urban air pollution. Meeting the mobility needs of citizens while reducing emissions and air pollution from the transport sector therefore requires urban planners and policymakers to shift their focus from planning for personal cars to planning for low-carbon mobility by promoting public transport, shared mobility and improved walking and cycling infrastructure and facilities.” The United Nations, Human Habitats Director, Global Solutions Division Ruf Tuts said.
However, whilst it remains the case in most growing global economies and Zimbabwe included, the latter’s public transport and cycling infrastructure like most other African and global developing world transport system’s is dilapidated or non existent and let alone marketed as part of a tourism culture that is safe, hygienic, efficient, safe and environmentally conscious.
With the ‘second republic’ having instituted SI 89 of 2021 which sought to reduce carbon importation through importation of high emitting vehicles, approval of the smart cities initiative, availing the ZINARA fund for devolved transport infrastructure development the stalemate between the government’s ZUPCO scheme and the too informal alternative mode of public transport and alleged looting of the precious lithium needed for the battery manufacturing potentially offset’s the faster growth of Smart Cities.
The report emphasises that “Rolling-out electric mobility is not without challenges: policymakers and stakeholders are frequently confronted with four types of challenges: financial and investment barriers, policy, regulatory and institutional barriers, technical challenges, behaviour and knowledge concerns. To tackle these challenges, cities can gain experience from other cities which have already designed and rolled-out electric mobility programmes.”
With this in mind, and continuing smart venture’s like the Distribution Power Authority’s (DPAs) electric charge system, cabinet’s approval of the smart cities project, the announced rollout of the ZUVA Electric Charge station’s among other smart transport initiative’s. Zimbabwe can be thought as making strides with calls for her to adopt the sustainable development approach of ‘not being left out’ and learn how to enable Smart cities within it’s domains.
The report called government’s, local authorities and stakeholders to reconsider their predominant approach of supporting the private transport system that brings burdens of expanding infrastructure and consider public transport system approaches which mitigate effects of climate change and do not pose burdens on the environment.
“For too long, most cities have prioritized the private motorised vehicle, directing funds and policies towards the expansion of the road network…Expanding roads leads To urban sprawl, stimulating the use of cars and increasing congestion which, in turn, is often seen as a call for more infrastructure…Given the emergency and severity of climate change and air pollution, cities urgently need to embrace a sustainable mobility pathway by moving away from the priority given to private cars towards a Sustainable and integrated transport system with accessible, affordable and clean public transport at its heart, and Compact urban planning.” The report emphasises.
The report also urged for the institution of an environmentally conscious approach in management of the waste from batteries as they are hazardous to the environment, despite the alleged reality of mass looting of lithium ore present a varied reality for African countries as they benefit from degraded locations left behind as foreign firms can export as much as over 300 tonnes daily of the futuristic energy source.
“The entire lifecycle of batteries should be considered, adopting a circular economy approach, making use of “reuse, repurpose and recycle” opportunities, and avoiding environmental and health hazards in the recycling of batteries. The second life use of electric vehicle batteries as energy storage systems can facilitate the integration of variable renewable energy sources into electric grids.” The report notes.
With Zimbabwe having adopted a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) Smart city initiative which already has interest from a Saudi Billionaire’s group, Mulk Holdings which visited Harare this quarter and announced interest in Smart Transport Systems, Conference Centers, Resorts among other business interest’s government is urged to institute win-win partnerships for citizens and all stakeholders continually lures private partners.
With the motor vehicle stock targets on mitigation of climate change calling for the increase in alternative modes of transport, the City of Harare and German in Zimbabwe coordinated cycling potentially is a positive despite the challenges in electrification and transport sharing.
“One way to lower these requirements while preserving the percentage stock targets, is to consider an alternative future where urban travel is reoriented toward mass transit and active transport, primarily walking and cycling, with less car travel. The ‘Three Revolutions’ or ‘3R’ scenario of ITDP and UC Davis (Fulton et al., 2017) centers around Electrification, automation and sharing, while encouraging Increased public transport performance and better infrastructure for walking and cycling.” The report also highlighted.
It remains that African poverty standards have left the continent behind in the industrial revolution despite it’s contribution to it’s growth andi resourcing while electric car’s become farfetched when putting a meal on the table is a challenge for African and Zimbabwean families despite the envisaged challenges brought about by climate change and the sustainable quest to leave no-one behind.