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Africa’s urban population is growing at an estimated annual rate of 3.5% and 65% of urban growth in Africa was in smaller cities and urban centres.
These were some of the trends discussed at the first African Real Estate & Infrastructure Summit taking place in Cape Town on Wednesday and Thursday.
“By 2050 Africa is expected to reach its demographic dividend. The question is how we can ensure Africa overcomes its hurdles and builds on its assets to get the maximum from this demographic dividend,” said Abbas Jamie, coordinator of Our African City.
Cape Town’s Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson told delegates at the opening of the summit that Africa is on the brink of great change.
He said Cape Town, for example, has grown by 30% over a 10-year period. Therefore, infrastructure is important to meet the ever-increasing demand for things like housing, employment and transport.
“Partnership between the public and private sectors, therefore, play an important role. Merely pursuing low density low cost housing on the outskirts of cities is not an option,” said Neilson.
He added that innovative thinking must be part of solutions for urbanisation challenges.
Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, secretary general of the umbrella organisation United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-A) said public governance must be improved in Africa.
“The future of Africa is at stake. Whether we like it or not, the future of Africa will be more and more linked on how cities are managed and how they are inclusive or exclusive; sustainable or not; and the way they choose to contribute to African unity,” he said.
“The challenge ahead is huge. It is very important to realise African cities are home to very young city dwellers – the median age is less than 20 years. The future of this continent is more and more linked to the future of cities.”
He said there is a growing understanding that government should have a complementary role on a city level, including regarding land planning, housing and access to basic services for all.
“We must find a way of leaving no-one behind. African people and leaders should accept the fact that cities are here to stay and there will be no going back to the romantic times of our local villages. People are voting with their feet,” said Mbassi.
It is estimated that Africa’s urban population will surpass its rural population by 2037.
“It is my submission that the growth of cities in Africa create infrastructure needs and it can be improved by implementing enabling policies on national and local level,” he said.
“For example, I think there are good prospects in the real estate industry, but developers still hesitate to take the risk on Africa’s property industry.”Source: Fin 24
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