February 13

How Can Emerging Economies Navigate the Mobility Transition?

By Pawan Goenka

In a world characterised by rapid urbanization, inadequate infrastructure, congestion and deteriorating air quality, as well as economic inequality and an evolving rural landscape, an improved mobility ecosystem should be fundamentally accessible, affordable, connected and clean.

Perhaps there is a case for ‘universal mobility’, as more than a billion people lack access to transport services globally. The economic principle of ‘pareto optimality’ – where resources cannot be reallocated to make one individual better off without making at least one individual worse off – could serve as a guiding principle.

For example, in India, almost 300 million people lack access to all-weather roads, affecting their access to mobility, economic opportunity and basic services such as healthcare and education. A possible pareto-optimal outcome could be one that unlocks economic value by ensuring that a majority gets access to mobility services – thus not only enhancing economic growth, but also bridging inequality gaps. One of the key challenges for emerging economies will be to leapfrog technologies as they transition to higher economic growth paths and balance environmental risks, while at the same time keeping mobility accessible to all.

Photo courtesy of Ronit Bhattacharjee.

Source: World Economic Forum (link opens in a new window)

transportation, urban development