Part of: Toward Efficient Informal Urban Transit

Paratransit in Sub-Saharan Africa


First half of 20th Century

  • Colonial governments provided scheduled public transport through public monopolies.
  • Most transit was by bus, though some countries had rail.

Second half of 20th Century

  • After independence, formal transit operations became unsustainable due to population growth, limited road capacity, increasing operating costs, and fare caps.
  • In the absence of regulations, paratransit services using small buses were established by individual owners and self-organized transport associations to meet the demand.
  • Formal systems deteriorated and many disappeared in Sub-Saharan African cities.

Current conditions

  • Paratransit replaced public transport in many cities.
  • The term paratransit is catching on in other world regions to describe informal transit, “para” meaning “to go beyond or further than normal.”

Minibus taxi rank in Kampala, Uganda. Photo by James Anderson / Flickr.

Mini-buses in Sub-Saharan African cities. Source:  Salazar (2015).