The unchecked urbanisation of Africa remains yet another challenge for the continent. Africa must face up to the challenges of urbanisation, not to mention climate change, and security pressures will only add to the difficulties and dysfunctions. Africa is 30.37 million km² or 3 times the size of Europe. The 54 African countries are not uniformly urbanised, just as their populations do not have a uniform standard of living. The North and South are 60% urbanised, while the rate varies from 25% to 50% in other regions. Africa’s 9,200 conurbations have both similarities and their own specific characteristics.
Since 1990, the population of the African continent has doubled, leaving Africa to face the challenges of this galloping demography. Today, more than half of Africa’s urban dwellers live in cities with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants. In 1990, a third of Africans lived in cities. By 2050, projections suggest that over 70% of the population will be living in cities.
Onistha, the 3rd largest city on the African continent, is emblematic of this phenomenon. Located on the left bank of the Niger, it has a population of 8.5 million. By 2023, its effective surface area will be 80 times larger than its administrative boundaries. The city is also one of the most polluted in the world (WHO 2016).
This galloping urbanisation is often dysfunctional. New town projects are disconnected from real needs. In March 2023, the African Economic Union (AEC) recognised the challenges: “Africa needs a paradigm shift to ensure sustainable development by making a new commitment and increasing investment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, said Hanan Morsy Morsy3 at the Africa Forum for Sustainable Development 2023 (AFSD). ECA analyses show that Africa will need around 438 billion dollars of funding to adapt its urbanisation by 2030. In addition to the threats posed by climate change, security threats are also hampering efforts to make sustainable progress on development.
According to the World Bank (2017), these problems are self-perpetuating. This anarchic and poorly managed urbanisation discourages investment, and the lack of investment slows down improvement. For better or worse, urbanisation is accompanied by an improvement in people’s standard of living, but not enough to ensure that most African citizens can still live decently, and major inequalities persist.
Today, 85% of slum dwellers are concentrated in two continents: Central and Southern Asia (359 million), East and South-East Asia (306 million) and Sub-Saharan Africa (230 million). With a view to sustainable development, international cooperation should do more to help states develop better, and thus continue to help people to develop better and, above all, to live better. With a view to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 11: Ensure that cities and human settlements are inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This challenge must be resolutely supported.
Patricia Hugonin is an engineer HES, a graduate of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, water and environment, creator of ethical and sustainable projects, founder @everybodyneedswater
To support her project: https://www.there-for-you.com/donations/gemuesegaerten-fuer-die-kinder-im-kreis-kati/
1.Le monde du 10 octobre «Africa at the challenge of urbanization» Marie de Vergès.
2. Africapolis https://africapolis.org/en/countries
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