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Africa: a continent of chaotic urbanization

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 06 May 2010

The World Economic Forum should send a warning on rapid urbanization to all levels of leadership in Africa. The undersecretary general and executive director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, Professor Anna Tibaijuka, made this suggestion yesterday.

Squatter Camp outside Cape Town

Speaking during the first opening of the Co-Chairs Press Conference at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Dar es Salaam, she said she hopes that the forum will make it clear that Africa is a continent on the move and in transition where about 70 per cent of Africans have crossed into urban areas.

“This is taking place, I am afraid, in a very rapid and chaotic manner. So Africa has to catch up with this scourge of rapid and chaotic urbanization for the continent to be secure for business and economic activities,” she cautioned.

In this demographic transition it is the women and children who are normally caught in between; the 70 per cent who have crossed into cities and towns are living in squatter settlements without access to safe water and sanitation, “indeed to call a spade a spade without dignity,” she lamented.

Prof Tibaijuka continued to say that Africa is a useful continent where over 60 per cent of the people are below 30 years old. This brings into perspective the question of providing opportunities for young people in education, skills and training.

She said the WEF coming to Dar es Salaam and East Africa generally has to explore the environment of the African continent, not only from the traditional resource perspective of Africa such as in extractive resources, but try to develop Africa for Africans.

“Sustainable development in Africa will have to pick a social perspective in order to secure the interests of the people because then and only then could we flourish,” said Prof Tibaijuka.

She warned that if Africa fails to contain the rapid urbanization, it faces a threat of perishing because it is a recipe for unrest and urban upheaval. Continue reading Africa: a continent of chaotic urbanization