Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Congestion in economic and political capitals of African countries

13.06.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
Africa is the fast economically evolving today with a steady rising population (currently about 1.216 billion); yielding positive results and negative results for the greater part.
Some African capitals cities are congested not only by people, but also by buildings, factories and automobiles. Apart from the afore mentioned, some other cities that are congested by migrants both trans-border and foreign who are fleeing from various adversities.
It is now a normal phenomenon that African political and economic capitals host the greater part of businesses, population and resources. Some of these congested capital cities are; Lagos, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Cairo, Abidjan, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dar es Salaam, Mogadishu, Algiers, Kampala and Douala. Their populations range from 9,000,000 down to above 2,000,000.

Why the Congestion?

There are a multitude of reasons for this congestion and the government and private sector are to blame.

  • Port Services

Ports (Air/Sea) are commonly constructed in political and economic capitals of most African countries probably for easy entry and exit of goods and people.  These facilities accommodate many passers-by moving in and out; some for economic activities. In South Africa, there are 23 sea ports especially in Durban and Johannesburg which are attracting a lot of job seekers and business people causing congestion especially.

  • Industrial Structures and Headquarters of Companies

African governments and the private business owners have established their factories, business institutions, Headquarters/bureaus of organizations/companies in economic and political capitals. As such, job hunters and business stakeholders in need of the services of business institutions or government bureaus have to move into these capitals adding to the already existing high population.

  • Quest for Employment

By limiting the building of factories, business institutions, bureaus, Headquarters of organizations/institutions/companies to economic and political capitals, jobs will definitely be limited to these areas. Job seekers in other parts of the country will definitely have to move towards these cities; the main reason for rural-urban migration. Every year, more than 600,000 people leave Ouagadougou the economic capital of Burkina Faso to Abidjan the economic capital of Cote D’Ivoire in search of jobs in plantations and ports making the city very populated.

  • Central System of Governance

African Countries practicing the centralized government system, control activities and institutions in their capitals. People often move to these areas for the services they render which obviously causes congestion. In Cameroon, the central system of government is still practiced where the biggest and most prominent business establishments of the state and private sector are found in Douala while most central government bureaus/institutions are found in Yaoundé. This explains why these two cities are heavily inhabited.

  • Better Educational Facilities/Services

African governments have not only limited the best educational facilities and services within the boundaries of their capitals, but have also limited the best infrastructure there especially Universities. For this reason, most students have no other choice than to migrate to these capital cities for quality education. In Abuja the capital of Nigeria, there are 7 State and about 20 private Universities both hosting about 18 million students and few in the Northern zones thus forcing students to move southwards.

  • Social Amenities and Leisure/Touristic Sites

In a typical African set up, some social services such as health, energy, portable water and basic provisions are made available in political and economic capitals. In the same light, touristic sites and leisure facilities such as museums, zoos, botanic gardens, beaches, hotels, monuments, sport complexes and more are often constructed in capital cities. These are as attractive to foreigners as they are to the population of the host country causing a constant influx.

  • Evicting Developmental Responsibilities

Most African governments inherited already developed cities from their colonial masters and are finding it difficult to develop new ones in their countries which is forcing those in the under-developed areas to migrate to the developed capital cities congesting them.

Consequences of Congestion

Many African political and economic capitals cities are have been hit by the consequence of high crime wave and insecurity.

Disease spread will be easy because control and waste management will be difficult to handle and will take longer due to the large population.

In congested towns, standards of living will increase due to the high demand for goods making them scarce. Thus sellers will be forced to increase prices making it difficult for average consumers to survive.

There is a high possibility of accidents due to the intensive use of automobiles and susceptibility to disasters such as landslides and floods because of the uncontrollable use of land.

Due to the many activities and intensive use of infrastructure, they deteriorate and get destroyed faster increasing government expenditure after repairs and reconstruction.

Congested cities always experience a fast rate of climate change because in the course of activities carried out, dangerous substances, gases are released which damage the environment/atmosphere.

Possible Solutions and Recommendations

Governments should;

Create multiple ports in other cities or in other parts of the same city.

Construct larger road transport system that can accommodate a larger number of automobiles.

Practice a decentralized system of government where some legal and institutional matters can be solved in other cities.

Allow investors to establish in other cities apart from political or economic capitals.

Conclusively, it is quite controversial that despite the vast unoccupied land, congestion has become an issue high attributed to Africa. The Solutions to this issue are clear though expensive and will take a lot of time, they can be realized.

Article from AFRIC Editorial 

Credit image : google image/ illustration

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