A week-long visit to Namibia by the leaders of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) in October continued a longtime working relationship with that country but lays the groundwork for relationships with numerous other African countries.
Agency Director Greg Winfree, Assistant Director Joe Zietsman and Associate Research Engineer Tara Ramani met with the country’s Roads Authority (similar to our United States Federal Highway Administration [FHWA]) to outline future work the Institute will conduct for Namibia. They also conducted a workshop with the senior leadership of the Roads Authority.
“Five years ago, Namibia was interested in developing a transportation sustainability plan for their country and contacted me [based on a reference by the FHWA],” Zietsman explains. It didn’t hurt that Zietsman’s home country is South Africa, which borders Namibia. “We developed a Road Transport Sustainability Plan for Namibia, and this most recent visit was focused on the implementation of this plan.”
Zietsman points out that Namibia, which is a bit larger than the state of Texas but very sparsely populated, has numerous transportation-related concerns — but is considered to have the best roads on the continent. Among the transportation issues, the road network around its ports is damaged due to over-weighted trucks from surrounding landlocked countries, Namibia’s fatality rate is among the highest in the world thanks in part to speeding and wildlife crashes, and the country wants to do everything it can to preserve its pristine environment.
The Roads Authority, in furthering its relationship with TTI, continues to be proactive and innovative, with sustainability a key focus, Winfree points out.
TTI also met with the senior leadership of the U.S. Embassy in Namibia, which is enthusiastic about promoting and helping with the Namibia/TTI relationship. They also met with the chief electrical engineer for the city of Windhoek, who is interested in establishing an electric vehicle fleet for the city.
“With our vast experience and technological solutions, I think we have a great opportunity to help Namibia solve some of its unique transportation problems,” Winfree says. “I foresee many of our TTI employees helping the Namibian Roads Authority over the course of the next several years. As a result, I think it could lead to similar relationships with other African countries.”