New centre will tackle African urban transport problems

17 April 2008 | Story by Helen Théron

Drum players
Centre of Excellence: Dean of Engineering & the Built Environment, Prof Francis Petersen, DVC Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo, Måns Lönnroth (Volvo Research & Education Foundations Steering Board), Assoc Prof Roger Behrens (Centre of Transport Studies), and Acting DVC Prof Danie Visser

The new Volvo Research & Educational Foundations Centre of Excellence for Future Urban Transport, launched at UCT last night, will tackle African urban challenges, harnessing knowledge and research from three leading African universities.

The new centre will tap into UCT's Centre of Transport Studies (engineering & the built environment), the University of Dar es Salaam's Department of Transportation and Geotechnical Engineering, and the University of Nairobi's Institute for Development Studies.

Cape Town, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi will be used as case cities.

It is the foundations' seventh such centre, extending the international network of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaboration in this area. Other centres have been established at the University of California Berkeley, Columbia University, University College London, the China Academy of Transport Sciences, the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and the University of Melbourne.

"It's a hugely important programme and a great opportunity to address unique problems in Africa," said Måns Lönnroth who is a member of the Volvo Research & Educational Foundations Board.

Speaking at the launch Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo said UCT strives to be a research-led university with a global footprint and to be nationally relevant.

"So it is wonderful to see UCT collaborating with other universities in Africa. This is precisely what we aspire to."

The centre will disseminate knowledge on the development and governance of public transport and non-motorised transport in African cities and act as a hub of research and capacity building.

"It will create an African research basis for urban transport," Lönnroth said.

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