The Ethiopian city of Hawassa is currently growing at an incredibly fast pace, according to the city’s vice-mayor Tamiru Tafe Hurisso.
After three years, the city plans to become East Africa’s Number One City in terms of everyday life comfort, tourism and infrastructure. Durable mobility is one important aspect of this endeavor.
Therefore, the idea to create a public bike network in Hawassa inspired by the Velo-Antwerpen bike system was at the center of the discussions on the 13th of October 2017 between Mr Tamiru and representatives from Hawassa University on the one part and Antwerp city representatives on the other part.
While the bike culture was very vivid a few decades ago in Hawassa, it has now largely been replaced by cars and tuk-tuk, and the city administration wants to reverse that.
Several common points between Hawassa and Antwerp will facilitate experience-sharing: about the same population size, same type of topography.
Since the purchasing power of the Hawassa population is limited, the idea would be to allow residents to use the network for free.
Inclusion of elderly persons in the daily usage of the bike network could also prevent the bikes from being stolen, since the elderly are highly respected in the Ethiopian society.
The project would be first tested on a smaller scale on the campus of the Hawassa University. Antwerp city Counsellor Lin Ploegaert has played an important role in the connection between Hawassa and the director of Velo-Antwerpen, Dimitri Rondeaux.
The coming of the delegation was facilitated by Dr. Amanuel Lomencho, who studied at the Tropical Institute in Antwerp.