Micromobility: Towards an African Perspective

Activity: Talk or presentation typesContributed talkScientific


This paper posits that, in the African context, the term micromobility could provide a new approach for the understanding of both long-standing mobilities such as walking and cycling, and of new forms of mobility such as solar-powered e-cargo bicycles or shared e-scooter schemes. The term could provide an integrated perspective on what is often fragmented across several debates and policies, or marginalised. The paper posits that micromobilities are of global importance for transitions to sustainable mobility, and that the role of African countries is crucial for this. While current debates on sustainable mobility (and their funding) are highly focused on electric cars, this paper argues that micromobility has a much larger potential to reduce (or at least not increase) transport-related carbon emissions around the globe, both for personal mobility and freight.
Micromobility is a relatively new concept, in use since 2017, and mainly popular in the European and American policy and research context. The majority of the micromobility debate is focused on the recent proliferation of shared electric scooters and bikeshare schemes with traditional or electric bicycles. Definitions of the term vary, but typically include a range of small, light vehicles that are fully or partially powered by humans and/or motors, such as bicycles, e-bikes, cargo-bicycles, step e-scooters or moped e-scooters. Most definitions only include vehicles with electrical motors, not combustion engines. Some include only those with some motor assistance, others also cover fully-human powered vehicles. Walking is typically not included. There is a strong focus on shared schemes.
This paper shows, how, regardless of definition, the debate is highly Global-North focussed, with little consideration of African mobilities. At the same time, there are rich cultures and histories of micromobilities in many African countries, as well as significant innovation in this area. The paper proposes a new definition and approach to micromobility that aims to go beyond the current limitations of the term, and to make it productive for African and global debates on mobility and sustainability.
Period28 Sept 2022
Event titleNew Approaches to Mobility, Transport, and Infrastructure in Africa
Event typeWorkshop
LocationAccra, GhanaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational