Photo: Jane Summerton

The Mobility and Access Programme

VREF have launched a new thematic initiative on Mobility and Access in African Cities (MAC). The programme will run 2019-2024, with a first set of pilot projects initiated in 2017–2018. The programme will be geographically focused on Africa south of the Sahara and structured around three subregions.

Mobility and access in African cities are at a critical point. Growing motorization in combination with insufficient traffic systems has led to severe problems such as congestion, environmental pollution, and dangerous street environments. Increased private car ownership provides mobility for some, but the large majority is dependent on walking and informally operated bus systems. While traffic is increasing, mobility and accessibility remain low and unequal.

The current situation prompts the exploration of new solutions to mobility and access that can avoid these systemic problems. African cities may be on the verge of a major shift in the technological domain of mobility and access, where new knowledge paradigms, new design and social and technical solutions will be at play.

The objective of the programme is to increase the knowledge and capacity base on mobility and access in cities in sub-Saharan Africa, in order to contribute to medium and long-term structural innovation and improvements.

The initiative wishes to contribute to forming a new generation of highly skilled university researchers and teachers, professionals, policy makers and actors within civil society. These groups and individuals can become drivers of research, education, training and communication. Leading experts in other parts of the world can contribute through collaborative partnerships with their African counterparts.

The MAC programme will run 2019-2024, with a first set of pilot projects initiated in 2017–2018, geographically focused on Africa south of the Sahara and structured around the three subregions of Western Africa, Eastern Africa and Southern Africa.

Within its geographical focus area, the intended outcomes of the MAC programme are:

  1. Increased capacity for research and education in urban access and mobility
  2. New locally situated and crossdisciplinary knowledge that can provide solutions and innovation for urban access and mobility
  3. Knowledge that is generated in MAC is communicated and reaches through to public decision-makers, business managers, opinion leaders, students, media and other change agents.

The programme hinges on six thematic cluster areas based on challenges and knowledge gaps identified and discussed during the MAC preparations:

  • Cluster 1: User Needs and Practices, Equity Issues
  • Cluster 2: Governance, Politics, Institutions and Finances.
  • Cluster 3: Emerging Business Models and Services Options
  • Cluster 4: Safety, Health and the Urban Environment
  • Cluster 5: System Design and Modal Integration
  • Cluster 6: Analytical Tools

Implementing partners are expected to approach these thematic areas by way of transcending disciplines and incorporating perspectives from e.g. engineering, planning, social sciences and the humanities. Moreover, all three modalities of capacity building, research and communication must permeate the work programme of MAC, cutting across all the thematic clusters.

VREF will provide funding, oversight and follow-up, as well as initiate specific strategic activities.

Furthermore, VREF is seeking to establish partnerships with international organizations and existing African networks for dissemination, education, training and policy advice, in order to leverage the VREF investment. VREF invites interested organizations to jointly explore possible cooperation under the Mobility and Access in African Cities initiative.

Facts about the new MAC Initiative

Download the flyerPDF (pdf, 347.3 kB)

October 2019
Upcoming Events
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
v40    1 2 3 4 5 6
v41  7 8 9 10 11 12 13
v42  14 15 16 17 18 19 20
v43  21 22 23 24 25 26 27
v44  28 29 30 31      



The current Call is mainly directed to sub-Saharan university-based researchers with expertise on sustainable and equitable mobility and access in sub-Saharan African cities, and/or previously engaged in transport-related research, and strongly interested in carrying out interdisciplinary research on issues related to sustainable and equitable mobility and access,

Call open until 2019-10-15


The VREF invites PhD students and researchers in early stages of their career to apply for a Study Visit Grant to be supported with up to SEK 30 000.

Invitation open until 2019-10-31

Blog! Blog! Blog!

Global Mobility Research

This Meeting of the Minds' blog monthly releases interviews of global transportation researchers from the VREF's Future Urban Transport Program Network.


This CityFix series, produced by the WRI (World Ressources Institute) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and supported by the VREF, discusses walking and cycling in cities with a special focus on low- and middle-income countries.

Each year the Håkan Frisinger Foundation for Transportation Research awards a scholarship to a prominent researcher.


About VREF

The Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) inspires, initiates and supports research and educational activities through the Future Urban Transport Programme - How to deal with the complexity of urban transport (FUT). 

Our Vision: Sustainable transport for equitable access in urban areas

Read more

© Copyright VREF