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Urban planning in Africa, an issue for development

23.05.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Urbanization is booming in Africa, a continent whose metropolises are often ranked among the cities in the world where it is not good to live. Major factor of growth and development, urbanization is the major challenge that have emerged in the 21st century, several African countries experiencing strong population growth. From Burkina Faso to Madagascar via Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Egypt, the creation of new towns is now part of the economic development programs of governments, which have become aware of the urgent need to improve the living conditions of their families. Their population because according to forecasts of the African Development Bank (ADB), two thirds of Africans by 2050 will live in cities.

Poor quality of life in African cities

Numerous reports, including the Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU) rank African cities among the worst in the world in terms of quality of life. Shortage of hospitals, violence, attacks, pollution, insalubrity, decaying road networks, traffic jams, degrading hazing… are all elements that do not plead in their favor. In its ranking of the 25 dirtiest cities in the world, Forbes magazine revealed in 2018 that Africa alone counts 15 cities. Among these bad students, Antanarivo (Madagascar), Brazzaville (Congo),Ndjamena (Chad), Bangui (RCA) and Bamako (Mali). The report indicates that in several African cities, insalubrity is the most recurrent phenomenon.

With high population growth, African cities are filled with waste-clogged gutters and garbage dumps that are maintenance-free. On August 22nd, 2017, the collapse of a landfill in a suburb of Conakry, the Guinean capital, cost the lives of a dozen people. The same year in March, Ethiopia was experiencing the same tragedy. A huge landslide in the largest garbage dump in Addis Ababa was about 60 dead. These sad events are the result of a lack of garbage management policy that prevents city dwellers from living in a holy environment and perpetually exposes them to danger. Despite these bad examples cited above, some African cities, nevertheless stand out.

The city of Kigali a model of development

In Africa, the Rwandan capital, Kigali has made considerable progress in terms of living comfort. With its clean streets, designer shops, well-manicured parks, luxury hotels, it is cited by the United Nations as a model of economic dynamism in the world. In a few years, the capital, Kigali has metamorphosed to become the cleanest city on the African continent, according to UN Habitat and the “best African capital” according to the International Courier. Kigali owes this international reputation to the policy developed by President Paul Kagame to allow his country to recover after the horrific episode of the genocide.

The Rwandan capital is today endowed with infrastructures of a high status like the new international airport, which is equipped with a powerful digital system. The city has got rid of plastic bags and garbage through a garbage collection system that involves all citizens. It has eliminated slums and slums. It’s well paved roads allow a smooth and fast circulation. In the city center, where modern buildings have grown in record time, the 18-storey Kigali City Tower is proudly erected. But President Kagame’s ambitious urbanization project is not limited to that. On the outskirts of the capital is building a new city called innovation city. This Rwandan Sillicon Valley is built to become one of the highest tech cities in Africa with 4G wifi coverage. In many African countries where capital cities are becoming saturated, the construction of new cities is increasingly being considered.

Building new cities, a trend in Africa

Senegal, like Rwanda, is engaged in building a new city. Diamnadio, the new city located about thirty km from the capital Dakar has it all. With more than 40,000 homes, its regional express train, highway, universities and luxury hotels, it is built to be an urban center that will generate employment and wealth. The new airport Blaise Diagne, five times larger than the previous one, is just like the new city Diamnadio, one of the titanic works of the Senegal Emergent plan of President Macky Sall.

Morocco, which is also following this path, has begun the construction of four new towns for the last 10 years to solve the problem of habitats in the big cities of the Kingdom. These new municipalities are Lakhyata which extends to the southwest of Casablanca, Tamansourt located some km from Marrakech, Charafate which is not far from Tangier and Tamesna which is all ready of Rabat.

Burkina Faso, which is no exception, is planning to build a new town in the savannah, which will be located 15 km from the capital Ouagadougou. Called Yennenga, it is planned for 80000 inhabitants and will extend over an area of 678 hectares. Operational in 2030, it will be equipped with social housing and economic as well as hotel infrastructure and many buildings. For the Burkinabe authorities it is the right solution to unclog the capital Ouagadougou, which has experienced a vertiginous population growth in recent years because of the rural exodus.

Equatorial Guinea, which for some years has been building cities dedicated to administrative and industrial activities, is also a perfect example of urban development. Among the new cities, making the pride of this small country in Central Africa, Sipopo, the seaside resort that houses the famous 52 presidential villas of the African Union, the medical complex La Paz or the Sofitel, Malabo Sipopo Golf, the impressive 5 star hotel. Dibloho inaugurated in 2015, is the boldest bet of the Equatoguinean government.

This jewel enjoys the status of City Province. Considered as an administrative city with its high standing buildings it also aims to be with its two universities at University City.

Madagascar, whose capital often occupies the depths of the ranking of the unhealthiest cities in the world wants to draw inspiration from this African dynamic. Its new president Andry Rajoelina to take up the urban challenge is also considering the construction of a new city not far from Antananarivo where will be relocated embassies, institutions and ministries. The problems of overcrowding, insecurity, pollution and unhealthy conditions in many African cities can be solved through well-structured and cleverly designed development plans and the willingness of governments to improve living conditions.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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