Addis Ababa is rapidly urbanizing doubling in size every decade since the 1980s. Despite the City’s relatively low motorization rate; rapid economic growth has led to increasing rates of vehicle registrations. Today, transport comprises 68% of the City’s total emissions the major share of which is from on-road transport. The vehicle fleet in Addis Ababa is characterized by old and inefficient vehicles. Public transport includes public buses and privately-owned minibuses which are predominantly powered by unregulated diesel engines. For urban residents, air pollution is one of the top causes of death with diesel exhaust constituting a large share of air toxins. In 2017, the transport sector was responsible for 60% of PM2.5 non background concentration.
The demand for affordable and modern mass transit services has increased faster than the City can provide it. In turn, mounting gridlock is creating safety and health risks, producing more greenhouse gas emissions and impeding economic development. In response to these challenges, Ethiopia has turned its attention to shifting its capital towards sustainable mass transit solutions. Part of this is investing in light rail transit (LRT), bus rapid transit (BRT) systems and other mass transport services. The development of 2 BRT corridors is already underway with a total of 15 planned BRT corridors as stated in the current Addis Ababa city master plan 2017-2027 (link to article).The two LRT corridors cover about 34.25 km in both directions, i.e. from North to South and East to West.
As buses have yet to be tendered or procured for the BRT systems, the introduction of zero emission buses, such as battery-electric buses, on defined BRT corridors or other alternate routes provide an excellent opportunity for Addis Ababa to avoid locking-in local and global emissions from diesel fueled buses for the next 20 + years.