Nordic Development Fund

05/15/2017 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/15/2017 06:11

Pathways to sustainable urbanisation of Africa

The Africa's Urban Future conference took place on Friday, 12 May and was organised by the Nordic Africa Institute, University of Helsinki, Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Nordic Development Fund.

The meeting brought together more than 100 participants including policy-makers, researchers, Africa specialists, local authority representatives, civil society and the private sector to raise attention to the rapidly urbanising African continent, its challenges and possibilities, and to explore Nordic collaboration and engagement with Africa's urbanisation.

The fastest rate of urbanisation in the world is in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the latest UN-HABITAT State of African Cities Report, Africa is experiencing unprecedented population growth; its total population is expected to double, reaching 1.8 billion by 2040. Urban transition, characterised by settlement of the majority of the populations in cities and towns, is gaining greater momentum in Africa than anywhere else. More than a quarter of the world's 100 fastest growing cities are in Africa. More than 50 African cities already had a population of more than one million in 2011 and another 500 African cities have populations over 250,000 inhabitants. With the arrival of approximately 300 million new inhabitants in African cities and towns in the next two decades, urbanisation has become one of the critical factors of Africa's structural transformation.

The conference opened with statements from the African Development Bank and the Finnish Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen.

The conference took the form of four workshops and two keynote speeches, which were delivered byProfessor Edgar Pieterse, Director of the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, andProfessorTakyiwaa Manuh, Director of the Social Policy Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Professor Manuh emphasised in her keynote speech the need to put in place deliberate policies to take advantage of rapid urban growth for long-term planning in Africa: 'The urban transition is a unique opportunity for Africa to harness the associated advantages to achieve a long-term vision. But this calls for a policy narrative that fully recognises urbanisation as a positive force of change and fosters deliberate responses to support related enigmas while addressing barriers. Such a policy narrative will recognise that cities do not exist in a vacuum. An urban agenda in Africa should not be considered as a narrow sectoral issue, as it has often been.'

NDF was the organiser of a workshop on climate change and the effect of urbanisation on climate risks and how to improve the resilience and coping capacity of African cities. In the workshop, the participants analysed the possibilities and potentials for Finnish/Nordic-Africa cooperation with a specific focus on climate change and urbanisation.

More information

Africa's Urban Future - Research and Policy Dialogue