Global Challenge, Global Solutions: Light-Rail Promotes Green Transit in Africa

Ad­dis Ababa’s light-rail sys­tem brings transit-ori­ented de­vel­op­ment to sub-Saha­ran Africa, re­du­cing CO2 emis­sions and com­mut­ing times.

“Global Challenge, Global Solutions” is a series hosted on Climasphere highlighting inspiring, innovative, and creative global solutions to the challenge of climate change in the lead up to the next major climate conference, COP22. These solutions have been provided by members of the Earth To Marrakech coalition, a group of more than 50 media organizations, civil society groups, and businesses from around the world who are raising their voices in a collective call to move from words to action on climate change. Let’s send a message, from Earth To Marrakech: The solutions to climate change are out there, and they’re inspiring. 

Light-Rail Promotes Green Transit in Africa


In Septem­ber 2015, Ad­dis Ababa launched its much-an­ti­cip­ated 34-km lightrail sys­tem. Expected to carry 60,000 people per hour in all directions, and handle one mil­lion com­muters every day once fully op­er­a­tional, the pro­ject has been de­signed to make com­mut­ing easier for the city’s nearly four mil­lion res­id­ents.

Fun­ded largely by China Rail­way Group Lim­ited, the pro­ject is part of the city’s lar­ger, long-term vis­ion of growth and de­vel­op­ment. The light-rail line en­ables the Ethiopian cap­ital to man­age and shape its development along transit routes, mean­ing less con­ges­tion, less CO2 emis­sions from trans­port, and easier, faster com­mutes.

Ad­dis Ababa is one of the fast­est-grow­ing cit­ies in the world, and ad­equate pub­lic transit is cru­cial to en­sure the city can man­age its ex­pec­ted fu­ture growth. The light-rail pro­ject lays im­port­ant ground­work, giv­ing the Ethiopian cap­ital a firm transit struc­ture so that fu­ture de­vel­op­ment can oc­cur along­side ex­ist­ing transit routes, re­du­cing de­pend­ence on auto­mo­biles.



Shift­ing com­mut­ing from auto­mo­biles to pub­lic transit is one of the most ef­fect­ive strategies for lower­ing CO2 emis­sions from the trans­port sec­tor.

Africa has less than 3% of the world’s mo­tor vehicles, but more than 11% of global road fatal­it­ies.4 In­vest­ing in pub­lic transit can make African cit­ies safer for com­muters.

Pub­lic trans­port in­fra­struc­ture has the po­ten­tial to cre­ate high-qual­ity, long last­ing jobs, which sup­ports strong local eco­nom­ies.5

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