By Ebi Atawodi
Published June 19, 2016
Nigeria’s Federal House of Representatives has voted in favour of ride-sharing
Obinna Chidoka, a member of the Federal House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Habitat, is looking at how technology can enable safe and reliable motor vehicle transport while limiting the negative effects of traffic congestion. This has culminated in the unanimous vote by the Nigerian House in favour of a resolution supporting ride-sharing.
Chidoka describes this resolution as “a pivotal step for Nigeria and the critical role technology will play in helping us achieve the ambitions set out in the 2015 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.”
He says the resolution “is an important development in reducing the number of cars on our roads, creating thousands of jobs and building sustainable businesses for our country.”
Nigeria, that is urbanising rapidly, is expected to add more than 200 million people to its cities in the next 40 years, more than tripling the size of its current urban population. Only China and India will add more.
This fast pace of change presents a serious challenge for the country’s transport system. The African Development Bank notes that the average commuter in Lagos now spends more than three hours in traffic every day.
Technology, if well harnessed, could offer the antidote to this problem. With a smartphone, ride-sharing apps like Uber can now connect riders and drivers at the push of a button. This brings benefits for riders, drivers and cities. Riders find it easier, safer and more affordable to get around; drivers have access to new, flexible economic opportunities; and cities see their transit networks extended, emissions cut as cars are taken off the road.
The resolution by Nigeria’s House of Representatives is a step towards legislation that will allow the benefits of ride-sharing to be felt across Nigeria and, ultimately, encourage transport innovation for cities across Africa.
At the start of the last century, just one in seven people worldwide lived in cities. Today it’s half, and by 2050, the UN predicts another 2.5 billion people will be living in urban areas. This has brought huge benefits, with the growth of cities linked directly to economic growth, as well as improved health and education. Nowhere is this more apparent than across Africa, but it has also often come at the cost of creaking infrastructure, especially when it comes to transportation.
In response to this challenge, governments across the world–from Mexico City to Sydney–embrace ride-sharing. Nigeria is now the first country in Africa to move towards building ride-sharing into its transportation policies.
Ebi Atawodi is General Manager, Uber West Africa.