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Road Safety - 3 questions to Tawia Addo-Ashong

Committed to a safer mobility

Road accidents kill 1.35 million people worldwide every year. They are the leading cause of death among young people around the world and among children in Africa. Therefore, road safety is proving vital. Our goal is to share our expertise with professionals and other individuals in local communities to achieve a reduction in the number of victims. We are implementing programs for young people because they are particularly vulnerable, training for specific targets (truck and two-wheeler drivers) and supporting the authorities to strengthen road safety standards.

3 questions to Tawia Addo-Ashong
Road Safety Pillar Lead of the SSATP


Tawia Addo-Ashong is the Road Safety Pillar Lead of the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), World Bank, where she spearheads the development of sustainable road safety policies and was instrumental in establishing the African Road Safety Observatory (ARSO), a network of African road safety institutions and partnerships. Before joining SSATP, she was the Program Manager of the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF).



What is the context of road safety in Africa ?

Up to 1.35 million people are killed annually in road traffic crashes worldwide - equivalent to one person dying every 25 seconds. Africa faces a similar predicament. Since 1990, deaths due to road traffic injuries have grown by more than 80%, almost double the global increase. In Africa, the 300,000 lives lost annually translates to 650 people dying daily, half of whom are vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and motorcyclists. Five countries (Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Uganda) account for half the continent’s death toll. Despite having only 2% of the world’s vehicles, Africa is responsible for over 10% of road traffic deaths globally. As African economies continue to grow, road infrastructure expansions will result in increased vehicle ownership. We must act now to prevent the road safety crisis from worsening.

What challenges exist for improving road safety ?

Effective measures to combat the road safety crisis require good evidence-based strategies. One of Africa’s major challenges is the inadequacy of road crash management systems due to systematic under-reporting, estimated to be as high as 50% in some countries. Only a few countries have a functioning computerized crash database system. This means that there is lack of detailed knowledge on the how’s and why’s of road crashes. Additionally, the enforcement and implementation of road safety measures is weak across the continent. Whether at the national or local levels, there is poor coordination between government bodies and other departments with road safety-related responsibilities, with lead agencies lacking in capacity and empowerment.

"In Africa, the 300,000 lives lost annually translates to 650 people dying daily"
Tawia Addo-Ashong, road safety pillar lead of the SSATP

What solutions can African countries work on right now ?

African efforts must be grounded in an evidence-based Safe System Approach–a holistic view of the road transport system and the interactions among the various users–and be fully costed, resourced and sustainable. We must leverage data to inform countries’ decisions and their road safety efforts. In this regard, ARSO could support lead agency efforts to improve road crash and other safety-related database systems, which will facilitate the development of evidence-based road safety policies and interventions. Thanks to a partnership with GRSF and financial support from UK Aid and Total Energies Foundation for ARSO’s development, the quality of road safety data in African countries is expected to improve significantly over the new decade. I am confident that this will translate into evidence-based strategies producing positive outcomes for Africa.

Finally, we must foster greater awareness and commitment across all levels of government and among relevant stakeholders. We must improve the quality of our infrastructure, address issues around the importation and inspection of used vehicles and strengthen partnerships and advocacy efforts. There are also quick wins that we can achieve by implementing speed management strategies and improving helmet compliance, both in terms of numbers and quality.



  • 1st cause of death among young people in Africa (15 to 29-years-olds)
  • 26.6 deaths per 100,000 inhabitant linked to road accidents
  • 44% of deaths among pedestrians and cyclists