Hi #smartcommunity friends! Welcome to the Summer Series here on the Smart Community Podcast. As you know, we’re taking a little break from new content over the Australian summer holidays, and instead we are sharing the replays of a few of our all time favourite episodes. This week we’re sharing my interview with Michael Wanyama from Episode 335, which was released in March 2023 as part of our annual Mobility March series.
Michael and I met at Smart City World Expo in Barcelona in November 2022 where his company Auto Safety Uganda won the Innovation Category of the World Smart City Award. In this episode Michael and I discuss his background in IT and automatic technology and why he’s so passionate about happy, healthy and inclusive communities. Michael tells us about the context in Kampala, Uganda, why it’s the best tourist destination in Africa and also about some of the challenges Uganda faces with traffic safety, vehicle reliability and air pollution due to lack of systems, skills, infrastructure and regulation. We talk about the many different areas of the community that transport impacts and the importance of supporting the community in the process of transitions to new and cleaner mobility options.
Michael tells us about the projects they are working on, including upskilling mechanics, promoting gender inclusivity in the automotive industry and collecting data to support policy change in Uganda. We also discuss the problem of African nations having to ‘copy and paste’ solutions from other countries but finding they don’t work in the African context. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trend of great ideas and policies being stymied by the lack of resources and skillsets to implement the changes, as well as the need for community engagement, leadership and education to work together to solve these problems. As always, we hope you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it!
What we cover in this episode:
- Michael’s background in IT and automative technology and why that’s such a helpful mix
- His passion for happy, healthy and inclusive communities
- About Kampala, Uganda and why it’s the best tourist destination in Africa
- What a Smart Community means to Michael
- The challenges Uganda faces with traffic safety, vehicle reliability and air pollution due to lack of systems, skills, infrastructure and regulation
- The many different areas of the community that transport impacts
- The importance of supporting the community in the process of transitions to new and cleaner mobility
- Projects AutoSafety Uganda are working on to upskill mechanics, promote gender inclusivity in the automotive industry, and collect data to support policy change
- The problem with African nations having to ‘copy and paste’ solutions from other countries but finding they don’t work in the African context
- The emerging trend of great ideas and policies being stymied by a lack of resources and skillsets to implement the changes
- The importance of getting to the root causes of the problems they are facing
- The need for community engagement, leadership and education to work together to solve these problems
“As a parent, I want to see a future where my children are living healthy, getting basic services without the hassle. I see a community where there’s inclusiveness for everyone. So that’s what I’m passionate about because in Africa we have different settings. And due to environmental, infrastructure, and political challenges, you find that some of these things are hard to come by unless we join hands as communities.”
“We still have a lot of challenges to go through to go Smart. But what a Smart Community is, to me, is a community where every member has the right to live without feeling the effects of things that are being done by other people who have [more] resources. So a community where everybody’s living freely, they access services freely, they have education [and] health services, and any other necessities… And a community where everyone can look out for one another and where they have access to information that concerns them.”
“We focus on the informal sector [because] over 75% of the businesses, whether transport related or from other areas, are working in the informal sector, which is highly unregulated. So, we are raising awareness about some of the issues, and building their capacity for mitigation as individuals or communities, as well as collecting related data to inform policy so that we can cause related and essential policy and regulatory reform.”
“It’s really difficult to transition [to clean mobility] because actually, more of the vehicles that are being expelled from other countries due to [being] highly polluting and unreliable, most of them are shipping to Africa. Africa is importing over 90% used vehicles…So we are working on a project to retrofit some of the highly polluting vehicles to electric, because the cost of ownership for a new vehicle for the common Ugandan is really unreachable and unaffordable. They cannot afford to go electric even if the law comes in that you should transition to electric. So we want to create a circular economy around what they already have, so that they can transition to cleaner mobility with what they already have at a fraction of the cost.”
“You’ll find that these vehicles emit even sometimes more than twice the original settings because of the poor maintenance. So you find that we need this data that is used also in the training for mechanics to understand what they need to do to make such and such a change. And then also for the lawmakers to understand how bad this issue is, and the ideas that we need. Because Uganda was one of the first countries in Africa to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. But when you look at the interventions, transport emissions are not that much accounted for because we don’t have the data.”
“Many people are aware of the issues we have: we need to provide transportation, we need to improve how we consume, we need to improve how we do production, all these known issues. But the environment does not really support shifting right away.”
“We really have a broader vision. We want to make sure that once our people are cognisant of how we can make our roads safer, how we can reduce the emissions from transportation, we want to be able to be part of the pioneers for intelligent transport systems in Africa.”
Connect with me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org