Africa : Over 950 million new urban dwellers expected in Africa by 2050

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The number of Africans living in urban areas keeps increasing and it is expected that by 2050 the number will exceed 950 million. While this urbanization brings opportunities, it is also and above all a source of real challenges, particularly for intermediate cities which will be affected by two thirds of this growth.

The world population will reach 8.5 billion in 2030 and 12.7 billion in 2100. Of the new inhabitants who will be added to the world’s urban population, 90% of this growth will take place in Asia and Africa.

Also, of the 2 billion people who will be added to the world’s population by 2050, just over half (52%) will come from sub-Saharan African countries. During this period, the majority of the African population will live in cities and in intermediate cities in particular. It goes without saying that the demography of Africa conditions its urbanization.

Intermediate cities in Africa concentrated 30% of the urban population in 2015 according to the Africapolis study. This study identified 1348 intermediate cities for a population of 173 million. According to Africapolis, the continent has 26 intermediate cities in the upper bracket of intermediate cities, between 400,000 and 500,000 inhabitants, which weigh only 8% of the total population of intermediate cities. They were to accommodate at least half of the new urbanites in the next 30 years. Also, 539 intermediate cities with a population between 100,000 and 200,000 inhabitants representing 29% of the population of intermediate cities.

Today, all projections show that the African urban population will approach 1.2 billion inhabitants in 2050. Through this strong overall increase in population, intermediate cities contribute up to 40% of African GDP. This means that the improvement of the living conditions of African populations and the economic and social structural transformation of the continent are closely linked to the way in which the achievement of the 2030 and 2063 Agendas will be approached in the intermediary cities. Which are certainly the laboratories where the continent will have to invent its own approach and its own development path.

If this urbanization brings opportunities, it is also and above all a source of real challenges for intermediate cities.

These challenges amongst others include unsanitary conditions, insecurity, insufficient basic services, inflation of the informal sector, deficits and dysfunctions resulting from a lack of vision and strategic planning. The last urban plans of most of the continent’s metropolises dated from the 1970s, and for the next two decades, adjustments and tinkering with only relative efficiency took the place of urban development plans. Meanwhile, under the pressure of population growth and rural exodus, the continent’s rate of urbanization has accelerated at a breakneck pace to flirt with 4% per year, according to UN-Habitat. States and municipalities initially seemed powerless in the face of the progression of the phenomenon, hence an uncontrolled urban expansion, with a proliferation of precarious, unmarked neighborhoods, without facilities, under-integrated and informal housing and businesses. Fortunately, over the past decade, governments and local communities have developed strategic urban planning documents that they are in the process of implementing. These general reflections on the meaning to be given to metropolitan dynamics enabled them to draw up a precise inventory of their cities, in order to develop a general framework capable of anticipating urban growth, the future needs of populations and economy, to adapt to it and, therefore, to design a ‘smart city’.

It is within this context that more than 5,000 participants are expected at the Africities 9 summit in Kisumu to discuss Agendas 2030 and 2063 and to call for the urgent need of thinking about resilient and sustainable urbanization in Africa.

Sommaire<< Oumar Sylla, Director (a.g) Regional Office for Africa United Nations Human Settlements ProgrammeIntermediary Cities : The Challenge of Sustainable Energy Catchphrase >>