Today, I wear two professional hats: one as director of Transport for Cairo (TfC), a strategic advisory consultancy enhancing urban mobility in emerging cities; and another as road transport co-lead of the UN Climate Champions, a group working to gather state and non-state actors, such as local governments and banks, to tackle climate change. The work is highly connected. I bring my expertise in improving mobility to conversations about improving our climate, focusing on how to have sustainable transit systems in Africa’s emerging markets.
After graduating from AUC, I worked on creating a map of all public transit systems in Cairo for trip planning, then worked with the World Bank for the benefit of the Ministry of Transport with a front-row seat to the changes happening in the sector. Egypt has more than doubled its investment in the transport sector in 2021, creating a huge opportunity for innovators in the space to access funding.
I got connected to the UN Climate Champions through an article I wrote for Project Syndicate, “Electrifying African Transport,” about the options to make the continent’s transit systems more electric and more local. And the solution isn’t only electric vehicles. It’s about traveling differently — leaving your car at home and taking your bike or public buses. It’s also about traveling less and having shorter commutes, or investing in informal transit like microbuses.
Our work as transit consultants is all about driving the government toward such projects by creating knowledge and contributing to the debate on what sustainable transit can look like, along with tangible strategies to get there. TfC finished 45 projects so far in Egypt and six other countries in Africa. We added Egypt’s public transportation to Google Maps, working to make transit information more accessible to the public. And we’ve put together Egypt’s first Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), which assesses the mobility needs of a city and opportunities for improvement. We need more SUMPs in cities across the country and in emerging markets because such reports result in bankable project ideas and investment opportunities for the sustainable mobility transition.
COP27 is another opportunity to drive not only investment but also awareness of climate change as a reality that we must design for and navigate. We now need everyone to participate and appreciate the size of this challenge as well as maintain the stubborn optimism that we bring to our work. That change is possible, and we can accomplish it together.
An economics graduate, Mohamed Hegazy ’12 is the founder and director of Transport for Cairo and an associate of the UN Climate Champions, where he is developing a transformation strategy for road transport systems in Africa.