The inaugural Kofi Annan Road Safety Award ceremony was held in Accra, Ghana, on March 16th 2022. The award is organised by the Government of Ghana, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Secretariat of the United-Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, and supported by the Kofi Annan Foundation.
Road crashes are disproportionately high in Africa compared to other regions of the world. The continent is said to lose over 300,000 people annually through road crashes despite its counties having the lowest levels of motorisation in the world.
“Leaving no one behind is key to achieving the SDGs and hence tackling road accidents must be prioritised.”
– Elhadj As Sy
With statistics of road crashes on the continent very worrying, the primary objective of the Kofi Annan Road Safety Award is to motivate key stakeholders, including governments, private sector, and civil society organisations, to develop and implement innovative and outstanding initiatives to save lives on Africa’s roads.
At the maiden edition of the Kofi Annan Road Safety Awards, Ghana President, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, called for action. He charged governments of the various countries on the continent tolearn from best practices around the world and implement key initiatives to tackle road accidents.
“Without innovative approaches and initiatives, we will find it difficult to save lives on Africa’s roads. We need every African alive to support our development agenda. We need the energies, creativity, and the can-do attitude of the vibrant youth to build the Africa we want,” H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo implored.
The Ghana President, who is also chair for ECOWAS, said, “My expectation is that this award ceremony will encourage our respective countries on the continent to learn from the best practices and experiences around the globe to tackle the road safety situation.
“Let us be inspired by these awards and drive positive change in our respective countries.”
The 2021 Kofi Annan Road Safety Award winners
- Excellence in the Implementation of the Africa Road Safety Action Plan 2011-2022- awarded to the Republic of Ghana
- Leadership in the Ratification of the Africa Road Safety Charter- awarded to the Republic of Namibia
- Excellence in Road Safety Management- awarded to the Federal Republic of Nigeria
- Leadership in Road Safety Data Management- awarded to the Kingdom of Morocco
- Leadership in Mobilising Resources for Road Safety- awarded to the Republic of South Africa
Kofi Annan Foundation Chair of the Board, Elhadj As Sy and Kofi Annan Foundation board member Nane Annan shared messages during the ceremony.
Message from Mrs Nane Annan, Kofi Annan Foundation member of the Board
Remarks by Elhadj As Sy, Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation
Mr President, Madam Commissioner, Madam Executive Secretary, Mr Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Road Safety,
Excellencies and distinguished guests,
It is my great pleasure and privilege to be here today in my capacity as Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation and to participate in the 1st Kofi Annan Road Safety Award Ceremony. It is very fitting that this Award should bear the name of our founder. As some of you may know, Kofi Annan was supposed to attend a workshop on Road Safety and Urban Mobility here in Accra in August 2018 but passed away only a few days before.
As Nane has told us, road safety was an issue he particularly cared about. He was UN Secretary-General when the General Assembly adopted the first-ever resolution on this matter, in 2004. In his first report to the Assembly on this issue, he regretted what he saw as “a fatalistic approach to road crashes and a lack of political responsibility”. He then put great energy and heart, and his unique political skills at the service of this cause. His push that “road accidents are no accidents” contributed to garnering the political will across the world needed to address the scourge of road crashes.
His commitment was undoubtedly linked to the recognition that this scourge affects the most vulnerable first, and most severely. Not only do the poorest countries fare the worst in terms of the number of road deaths. In each country, it is the people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds who are most likely to suffer in road crashes. It is the pedestrians, the cyclists, the disabled and the children who run the highest risks on the roads.
The vision of the Kofi Annan Foundation is precisely to contribute to building a peaceful and fairer world, where no one is left behind, and where progress is achieved through partnerships across sectors and through international cooperation. This Award is an excellent example of such partnerships.
Leaving no one behind is key if we want to achieve the SDG targets to halve global road deaths and injuries by 2030. In addition to the inconsolable loss of a loved one, the road crashes place a heavy burden on both national economies and households as many of the victims are young and economically active people who are providing for their families and relatives.
Experts estimate that road traffic deaths and injuries in low- and middle-income countries cause economic losses of up to 5% of GDP. In Africa, the situation is particularly severe due to rapid urbanisation, motorisation, and population growth.
The good news, as highlighted by many of the speakers today, is that we have the solutions to help prevent this unnecessary suffering. And Kofi Annan’s life work was all about prevention. Preventing conflicts, preventing hunger, preventing diseases from taking hold. He knew that to prevent road injuries and fatalities, road safety needed to become both a public health and a development priority for Africa.
The main objective of the Kofi Annan Road Safety Award is precisely to raise awareness about road safety and motivate key stakeholders – governments, private sector, and civil society organisations – to develop and implement innovative and outstanding initiatives to save lives on Africa’s roads.
I congratulate all the awardees. Their initiatives show us that we can promote safe, healthy and equitable mobility for all, and that strong partnerships can make a real difference at the local and national levels.
Let’s make a wish together today that they will inspire others and that this first Kofi Annan Road Safety Award will be followed by many others.
Finally, let me thank very sincerely the Government of Ghana, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety for organising this ceremony.
Main image: Miaron Billy, Shutterstock