SINCE 2008 more than half of the world’s population already lives in urban areas and this is just one stage in the urban transition as half of the urban areas that will exist in 2030 do not yet exist.
This is because 95 percent of the increase in the urban population will take place in the developing countries and especially Africa.
While Africa has currently a low level of urbanisation of around 40 percent, the combination of high population growth and rural to urban migration is already driving the world’s highest urban growth. It is estimated that 50 percent of the African population will be urban by 2035, and 58 percent by 2050.
That is why with the sponsorship of the French Embassy, French Development Agency (AFD), and the Research for Poverty Alleviation (REPOA), a one-day Tanzania-French dialogue on sustainable cities was launched.
This is because in 2100, it is predicted that the three most populated cities in the world will be in Africa and Dar es Salaam is amongst them, right after Lagos and Kinshasa.
The dialogue was put forth so as to identify the main challenges and opportunities for setting up sustainable cities, and the recommendations will be transmitted to the French Presidency in order to propose to the Africa- France Summit, of June 2020.
AFD Country Director Ms Stephanie Mouen mentioned some of the challenges in this rapid shift include the continuous growth in the number of people living in precarious neighborhoods.
“Currently, more than 1 billion people in the world live in precarious neighborhoods and this figure is likely to double by 2030. In Africa two-thirds of urban growth is to happen in slums. The challenge is therefore to help cities plan their development by integrating the slums,” she mentioned.
Stressing that, this will help give those in slums access to basic services while promoting development and social cohesion.
She listed other challenges being the concerns of development of cities that favors urban sprawl in the absence of sufficiently effective public planning policies, challenge of creating strong gender inequalities, challenges of adaptation and mitigation to climate change and financing.
France is committed to contribute to the development of sustainable cities in Africa, as announced by the French President, in Ouagadougou in November 2017, remarked the Ambassador of France to Tanzania Frederic Clavier during the opening at Serena hotel in Dar es Salaam recently.
“Therefore, it has been decided that “Sustainable cities” will be the theme of the next Africa- France summit of Heads of State and Heads of Government, which will take place on 4th to 6th June 2020, in Bordeaux (France),” he stated.
He further explained that the aim of this summit is to identify solutions and opportunities to develop sustainable cities across Africa by giving the floor to African leaders and experts.
“This will be a concrete and inclusive summit, bringing together the public sector, the business community and civil society actors.” Ambassador Clavier elaborated that the initiative is introduced as of currently more than half of the world's population lives in urban areas.
According to United Nations (UN), the proportion could rise to two-thirds by 2050. In Africa, the urban population is 472 million inhabitants today and could double by 2040, according to the World Bank. “Thus, the sustainable city concept appears as a considerable challenge,” he pointed out.
“The challenges in terms of equipment, networks and planning are crucial. Moreover, the rural exodus of populations leads to a number of difficulties, like overcrowding and pollution. The rise of rural exodus can exacerbate poverty and inequality as people flock to cities searching jobs and opportunities, imposing a strain on available services such as water, transportation and waste management,” he noted.
These Cities may not be sustainable in the long term due to congestion, infrastructure, pollution and social disintegration, he cautioned. The need for sustainable cities is particularly urgent, as cities produce more than 70 percent of global carbon emissions.
The majority of African Cities need a global revamping to become sustainable cities, based on comprehensive and effective urban legislation, updated urban planning, as well as adequate project financing.
“These three principles can be levers for transforming cities and human settlements into centers offering greater environmental, economic and social sustainability. But I would like to underline that these challenges are also opportunities to change the narrative and think in a different way the Cities in Africa.”
These challenges can be mitigated through good planning, effective implementation of policies and protection of ecologically sensitive areas, urban organic agriculture, reforestation and waste treatment associated to renewable energy.