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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge


Jack Mhyre

Modelling Material Requirements and Emissions of Future Transport Strategies in Uganda

The transport sector accounts for a quarter of global energy greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, not including the impact of manufacturing vehicles and infrastructure. This percentage will increase, pushed by growth in passenger and freight transport in the Global South, as populous countries develop their technologies and grow their economies. Clever transport strategy can reduce emissions and grow local businesses. However, a disjointed and isolated view of transport precludes sufficient planning.   

Emissions due to transport are well documented, yet a holistic view of the passenger and freight transport sector is rarely considered. Measuring the impact of various transport strategies must include analysing the materials and emissions that go into the construction and operation of vehicle sand infrastructure. Uganda is used as a case study due to President Museveni’s push for an increase in self-reliance and local production.  

To this end, a Python model was created and used to estimate the material needs for future transport projections and to predict the resulting GHG emissions. The created model focuses on the most ubiquitous and emissions-intensive materials and uses pedigree matrices with the Monte Carlo method to assign uncertainty to the data. The model illuminates the need for certain materials and the effect of different future transport scenarios on the material requirements and GHG emissions.  

The model produced reveals the large contribution of freight transport toward GHG emissions. It also highlights the GHG mitigation potential of vehicle efficiency improvements and modal shifts toward electric vehicles, public transport, and rail. These conclusions guide policy recommendations for the Ugandan government and major stakeholders in the Ugandan transport sector. Local production of electric vehicles, especially electric two-wheelers, should be encouraged. The power sector needs to remain low carbon as it expands in order to allow electric vehicles to have a meaningful impact on emissions mitigation. Laws and importation taxes should be implemented to encourage efficient, low-emitting vehicles to dominate the market. The Ugandan rail system should be invested in, especially for freight transport coming from the Kenyan coast. Public transport should be encouraged with methods such as limitations on personal vehicles in city centres and the subsidisation of fares.