Challenges facing African cities

Posted on September 14, 2014 01:20 pm

Despite plunging from crisis after the other over the years, Africa has some of the safest and most liveable cities in the world and this is perhaps its greatest unknown asset. As half the continent’s young population, and rising, now live in cities, the region can now compete with the other great cities across the world. In cities like Kampala Uganda, Dar es Salaam Tanzania, Lagos Nigeria, Nairobi Kenya among others, investors and stakeholders are creating cities where people will find employment and investment opportunities, cultural, artistic and sporting outlets, stimulating landscape, educational facilities, diverse housing and a lively street life. A recent study in real estate market has revealed that the number of people setting up house in African cities is growing at a rate of about 19 per cent a year attracted by the new opportunities for popular inner city lifestyle, streetscapes and restaurants, parks and access to flawless transport system that rural folks in African don’t have. In Kampala and Nairobi, the study revealed that the demand is fuelling a significant boom in public infrastructure projects with many of which will transform the cultural life and skyline, and the business opportunities available in both Uganda and Kenya. Focusing on partnerships with the key decision-makers in their cities like the architects, planners, other levels of government, industry groups, and the growing number of residents, the people and structures will be vital to the shape and detail of future development.Reality has dawned in Africa that it is not countries that compete for trade and business investment opportunities, the cities and states are the real competitors.In Nigeria, states are the gateway to the state and regional economies, and the cities becoming a major gateway for those wanting to visit and do business.

Nairobi’s 24-hour airport and the proposed modern transport infrastructure will arguably make Kenya’s capital the most efficient gateway in East and Central African region. My views on this issue have been brought into sharp focus by my travel and contacts in Africa, confirming the high level of interest in the region, providing African cities can find new ways to provide the goods and services the market will require now and in the future.Focusing on the long term, it is vital that cities in Africa encourage younger population to make the contacts and connections that will serve them all their lives, inexorably linking cities,urban areas and building networks that they can only dream about today.It does not come as a surprise to many parts of Africa are undergoing a youth revolution. The expansion of domestic intakes by African universities sector is turning the cities around them into a campus cities. A good example is Kampala Uganda and its suburb has more than five universities which is a highly visible and invigorating transformation, which adds to Uganda’s already complex cultural mix. Indeed, strengthening links with the countries of East Africa has been a cornerstone of the Uganda’s strategy to secure Kampala’s combined growth and prosperity into the next century. African cities are now the marketplaces for new investment, for business and for the wealth and prosperity this brings in their wake. Cities strong retail core is another major asset for African cities, which continues to gather strength and they will continue to develop around their retail core, which is being fed by the growing number of residents, workers and visitors attracted into the cities and other major urban areas.African cities now recognise that they must compete with other cities for investment and business in order to secure their future and stimulate ongoing employment and prosperity.

Contador Harrison