Governments in Africa have been advised to build smart resilient cities to be able to contain the growing population on the continent, which has expanded beyond the available resources and infrastructure.
Tolu Oyekan, Managing Partner and Head of Boston Consulting Group (BCG), who gave the advice also urged the African governments to collaborate with the private sector to be able to build these smart resilient cities.
While moderating a session on “Megacities: challenges and opportunities of unbridled urbanization“ at the Africa CEO Forum 2022 held recently in Cote D’Ivoire, Tolu identified different ways by which African governments could collaborate with the private sector to respond effectively to the expected population growth through affordable housing, green and smart solutions.
Citing the United Nations’ prediction that African cities‘ population will double by 2050, he said the situation was likely to overwhelm the capacity of urban cities in the continent, which are already ill-equipped to support existing residents.
“Following the trend, issues such as migration and the potential continued pressure that could create come to the fore. For instance, a city like Lagos experiences about 80 to 100 new residents per day. There is an issue of climate change- with the expectation that cities will experience climate refugees if non-urban areas are not able to adapt appropriately. It is therefore important for governments in collaboration with the private sector to think about increasing digitalization and the potential to create smarter African cities,” he noted.
He identified some of the urgent needs that would be required by the huge population as good housing, education, healthcare, and food security, adding that physical infrastructure such as a strong multi-modal transportation network and electricity are necessities.
According to him, an inclusive economic framework that enables all demographics – women, men, youth, elderly, and disabled – to access jobs that enable dignity or support self-employment and entrepreneurship will be required.
He asked the panelists to particularly speak to the climate impact of the population surge and possible solutions to mitigate the impact.
The subject matter experts spoke extensively on the challenges and opportunities in a period of rampant urbanization, focusing on climate action, the development of clean energy, road network optimization and rapid construction of affordable housing.
Oyekan engaged the business and government leaders on the role of financial institutions in providing risk assessment and funding for sustainable infrastructure and clean energy projects in future African cities.
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The ACF 2022 was a platform for international organisations, policymakers and business executives to connect and brainstorm on growth strategies for the continent.
The critical stakeholders who spoke at the session include Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, Vice President of Cross-Cutting Solutions, International Finance Corporation (IFC); Amaury de Féligonde, Managing Partner, Okan Africa; Marco Aurelio De Assis, CEO, Group Vivendi Africa; Rania A. Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Egypt; and Kaba Niale, Cote D’Ivoire Minister of Planning and Development.