UN-HABITAT Calls for Re-Thinking African Approaches to Urbanization

UN-HABITAT3 March 2014: Africa's development trajectories may not deliver broad human development and prosperity for all, given Africa's rapid urbanization, massive population growth and urban poverty, according to ‘The State of African Cities 2014: Re-imagining sustainable urban transitions,' a report by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). 

The report argues for re-thinking development models and trajectories for Africa to transition towards sustainability. It notes that Africa's urban economies, infrastructure, land markets and services cannot absorb its increasing population. It stresses that a combination of climate-related threats, environmental vulnerabilities and demographic pressures are reinforcing and exacerbating Africa's urban challenges and pervasive poverty.

Projections suggest that Africa's highest-performing 18 urban economies may have a combined purchasing power of US$1.3 trillion by 2030, as a result of their growing middle classes. At the same time, half of the African population continues to experience persistent poverty, with approximately half of all Africans living on less than US$1.25 per day.

The report recommends climate change adaptation, green solutions, technological innovations and vulnerability reduction alongside economic development and urbanization in Africa's cities. Noting that Africa's youth population is predicted to reach 1.1 billion by 2010, making it the largest labor force in the world, the report suggests green technology expansion could reduce youth unemployment and cities' ecological footprints.

UN-HABITAT's Deputy Executive Director, Aisa Kirabo Kacyira, launched the report on the sidelines of the fifth session of the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD). The report is the third in the UN-HABITAT series on the State of African Cities. It includes an overview chapter on African cities and individual chapters on Northern, Western, Eastern, Central and Southern African cities. [UN-HABITAT Press Release] [Publication: The State of African Cities 2014]