Cape Town city. Photo: Matthew jordaan

Pretoria - Joburg and Cape Town are among the fastest growing cities in the world.

There is nothing new to the migration of rural people to cities in Africa today, a UN Habitat report says, but this trend is likely to put a strain on African cities’ infrastructure by 2050.

The report projects an increase from today’s 400 million people in urban areas across Africa to 1.2 billion by 2050.

But this rapid growth of Africa’s urban dwellers and infrastructure constraints would put pressure on intermediate-sized and smaller cities, the report says.

“These (cities) are set to receive the vast majority of total urban growth but they tend to lag behind in urban institutional and capacity development.

“Joburg, which forms part of Africa’s 52 cities with more than 1 million people, is hosting the 7th Africities Summit which will discuss, among others, how best to absorb more urban dwellers and built capacity.

Mayor Parks Tau said at the launch of the summit in Sandton that South Africa was no exception to the rapid urbanisation across the continent and around the world.

The summit comes at a time when Africa faces the effects of rapid urbanisation that demand an urgent new agenda for the continent. “About two-thirds of our country’s population now lives in urban areas,” he said.

“Urbanisation creates conditions for economic activity and allows better access to basic public services, but untrammelled urbanisation may also lead to a host of social tensions.

”Urbanisation brought with it both opportunity and difficulty in terms of sustainable development,” he said.

“City life does not necessarily equate to access to services. Across the globe, the poor struggle to access sanitation, water, electricity and the transformative power of information technology,” he said.

“Africities will therefore focus on the key challenges of urbanisation, inequality, unemployment, poverty, inadequate infrastructure, including public transport and water.”

The summit presented an ideal opportunity for players in the development agenda of Africa to learn and share ideas, he said.

The UN Habitat report said Africa’s 10 largest cities will include three mega cities by 2025; Lagos with a projected 18.9 million people; Cairo at 14.7 million and Kinshasa with 14.5 million. Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Khartoum in Somalia and Abidjan in the Ivory Coast were also likely to reach mega cities status within a generation from now, the report said.

Tau said rapid urbanisation, poverty, safety and security, unemployment and inequality were some of the remaining problems. Jean Pierre Mbassi, secretary general of United Cities and Local governments of Africa, said the summit would be a new beginning for Africa.

Pretoria News