AFRICA: Urgent drive to act on road safety

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Africain au volant, accident au tournant

Embouteillages dans la capitale de l’Ethiopie © AFP PHOTO/JOSE CENDON

Increasing traffic accident deaths are a likely consequence of economic and population growth in Africa unless leaders on the continent, already beset by the world’s worst road-safety record, implement a wide-ranging plan to address the second leading cause of deaths of young people, specialists at a major conference told IRIN.

“Africa has the worst road safety record in the world, despite the fact that it has fewer cars than other regions,” Robert Lisinge, an expert in transportation at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told IRIN on the sidelines of the Second African Road Safety Conference held in Addis Ababa this month.

Between 10 and 20 people per 1,000 in Africa own a vehicle. In Western Europe and Canada, the figure is 600; in the United States, more than 800. Yet some 322,000 lives are lost in Africa every year in road traffic accidents, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), [ ] which said the phenomenon was robbing the continent of its “breadwinners” and reducing national GDPs by between 1 and 5 percent, or US$10 billion a year.


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