Welcome to Cape Town!

This week we celebrate African transport research, during the first ever African Transport Research Conference, which we co-organise together with Centre for Transport Studies, University of Cape Town. For program, news and updates – visit the official conference website.

This conference is a landmark event in several ways. It is the largest convening to date of scholars working on issues related to African transport, mobility and access, and the conference also arguably gathers a uniquely diverse scientific community of scholars to present and discuss their work in this broad area.

For VREF, the conference marks the sixth year for our program ”Mobility and Access in African Cities programme” (MAC)  which was started in 2019. The overall purpose for this program is to increase the capacity for research and education in broad areas related to urban mobility and access in Africa.

We started off the week on Monday 4 March with a very fruitful and engaging workshop for the VREF MAC Next Generation Scholars, focusing on ”Mentoring: approaches, expectations, issues” with facilitators Anne Kamau, University of Nairobi, Kenya; Regina Amoako-Sakyi, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Focus was also on the development of VREF Next Generation Scholars Initiative, with information on “what’s on” and how to connect; group conversations to share needs and ideas moving, with facilitator Paschalin Basil, University of Nairobi, Kenya.

VREF Next Generation Scholars workshop Monday 4 March

Plenary speakers:

Geordin Hill-Lewis

Mayor of the City of Cape Town Geordin Hill-Lewis, 37, obtained an Honors degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from UCT, and a Masters in Finance specializing in Economic Policy from London University.

Geordon Hill-Lewis became politically active during his high school years. During his studies at the University of Cape Town, he founded the Democratic Alliance Students’ Organisation (DASO). He worked as Chief of Staff in the office of former Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. In 2011 Hill-Lewis was elected as a Member of Parliment in the National Assembly, becoming the youngest MP at 24 years old. During his time in the National Assembly, he has served on various portfolios, such as Trade and Industry and Finance, and most recently served as the Shadow Minister of Finance. On 18 November 2021, Hill-Lewis was inaugurated as the youngest Mayor of the City of Cape Town.

Edward Beukes

Edward Beukes is a Senior Transport Specialist at the World Bank, based in Pretoria, South Africa. He has worked in urban transport for 20 years with roles in academia, consulting, government and at the World bank across Africa.

Edward manages a diverse portfolio of work covering urban transport, freight and logistics and aviation across Sub-Saharan Africa. Edward holds a Bachelor’s and masters degree in engineering, a PhD in transportation and an MBA.

Carly Gilbert-Patrick

Ms. Carly Gilbert-Patrick has been working in the filed of sustainable transport for over fifteen years and is responsible for leading the UNEP team for Active Mobility, Digitalisation & Transport Integration. Prior to UN Environment, she was the Program Manager for the UN-Habitat Sustainable Transport for East African Cities Programme, working with city officials in Nairobi, Addis and Kampala to plan for introduction of bus rapid transport systems.

Before moving to Kenya, Carly worked for Transport for London supporting the design, implementation and launch of Mayoral priority projects such as the London Cycle Hire Scheme and the London Low Emission Zone. She is also a Member of the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council, Board Member of the Cycling for All and Sustainable Cycling Commission of the UCI (Union Cyclists Internationale, Independent Road Member of SLOCAT.



Africa is urbanising rapidly, raising enormous infrastructural and transport challenges that jeopardise the social and economic potential of the continent. Already, its countries contend with the immense challenge of providing sustainable and affordable connectivity and accessibility within and between cities, between countries and with the rest of the world. Both in terms of passenger transport as well as in terms of freight transport and logistics. 

These challenging conditions, however, also provide transport professionals with a wealth of interesting and relevant opportunities to advance transport research and solutions for Africa and beyond. 

The conference will present contributions to transport studies in Africa (and related fields), encompassing work on all land-based transport modes (including passenger and freight) in both urban and rural contexts and across six thematic areas:

  • User needs and practices, equity issues
  • Governance, politics, institutions and finances
  • Emerging business models and service options
  • Safety, health and the environment
  • System design and modal integration
  • Analytical tools and emerging technologies

The conference is open to researchers from all over the world who work on African transport in their scholarly activities. 


Graduate School of Business Conference Centre, University of Cape Town, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa


  • Professor Mark Zuidgeest (University of Cape Town)
  • Karin Henriksson (Communications Officer, VREF) 
  • Professor Jane Summerton (Scientific Advisor, VREF) 
  • Henrik Nolmark (Director, VREF) 
  • Professor Marianne Vanderschuren (University of Cape Town) 
  • Professor Roger Behrens (University of Cape Town) 
  • Dr Obiora Nnene (University of Cape Town) 
  • Dr Siddique Motala (University of Cape Town) 

Contact: ATR2024@uct.ac.za