Why Dar es Salaam? Using data to reduce congestion in Africa’s third fastest growing city

4 min readApr 25, 2022


In 2020, Tanzania graduated to lower-middle-income status (following the World Bank’s classification system) after two decades of sustained economic growth. The nation’s business capital, Dar es Salaam, currently has over seven million residents, making it the largest city in East Africa. From those seven million residents, less than one in ten households own a car, and 43% of commuters use public transport to get to and from work daily.

Despite this, one of the major challenges for public transport users and operators in Dar es Salaam is traffic congestion. In fact, many of the modes of public transport in the city were designed to overcome this challenge. The two main reasons for this congestion? A combination of rapid population increase and inadequate road infrastructure — particularly the city’s reliance on four main arterial roads.

Find out more about the different modes of transport in Dar es Salaam. Download a free copy of the white paper ‘Understanding the mobility ground truth in Dar es Salaam’

Image sourced from Science Direct

The cost of traffic congestion

Traffic congestion comes at a very real cost: increased fuel costs, pollution, and time spent travelling, as well as an increase in road collisions. There are also social costs including discomfort and stress. When traffic congestion is a problem, it can also limit access to essential services such as education and employment which, in turn, has an adverse effect on a city’s economic growth.

In a city like Dar es Salaam, not only prone to congestion, but challenged by climate impacts such as flooding (which further exacerbates traffic congestion) reliable information on the public transport network is both an opportunity to encourage citizens onto modes of transport that reduce congestion, and a way of mitigating the impact of congestion itself.

Public transport investments in Dar es Salaam

In 2016, East Africa’s first Bus Rapid Transit system was implemented in an effort to reduce the city’s stifling congestion — a project that was a partnership between the Development Bank, World Bank, and the Tanzanian Government.

The BRT currently has 11 routes operating across the city. While this has resulted in a low reach due to a lack of connections to main public transport routes, a 2020 evaluation revealed that 70% of the population had used the BRT at least once, with a fifth using it multiple times a week.

The BRT is reasonably cheap, with a fixed rate of 650 TZS (0.21 GBP/0.28 USD) per route.

Learn more about the ground truth of how people in Dar es Salaam move across this city. Download a free copy of the white paper ‘Understanding the mobility ground truth in Dar es Salaam’.

For a city that is set to reach megacity status before 2030, with a predicted population of over ten million people, public transport optimisation is essential to Dar es Salaam’s resilience, and successful accommodation of this growth. Yet optimisation is not solely a question of infrastructure. Infostructure — data on the complete public transport network of the city — is just as crucial.

That’s where WhereIsMyTransport comes in. Our Transit Data is public transport network data from every mode, and that information is a key component of a viable public transport system — one that is more accessible, efficient, and resilient.

Transit Data opportunities

Transit Data is rarely available in emerging markets. When it is, it is often incomplete and unreliable. At WhereIsMyTransport, we change that. We map and maintain data accuracy for every mode and operational style of public transport in emerging markets — including in Dar es Salaam — to deliver reliable, comprehensive, and fresh Transit Data in the global-standard GTFS format.

Daladala hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Accessing Transit Data that represents all modes of transport — informal and formal — puts organisations in a stronger position to make data-driven decisions at speed. Transit Data from WhereIsMyTransport includes route information, service operating times, fare details, accessibility data, vehicle attributes, and hyperlocal data like headsigns, local route and stop names, route colours, and iconography.

This information means organisations can generate new insights and augment their reporting by conducting more accurate and reliable infrastructure feasibility evaluations, for example. Organisations looking to assess and improve economic access in emerging markets, like Dar es Salaam, can harness our high-quality Transit Data to build an unrivalled understanding of how a city moves.

Book a meeting with one of our experts to discover how your organisation can harness opportunities in high-growth markets with our data offering.

Further reading

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Stories about data, mobility, and the Majority World from the WhereIsMyTransport team.