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Researchers predict that in 2030, Lagos, Cairo and Kinshasa will each have to cater for over 20 million people, while Luanda, Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg will have crossed the 10 million mark. By 2035, close to 30 million people could live in Lagos alone, turning Nigeria’s commercial hub into the largest megacity on the continent.

Future of African citiesWhile Africa’s cities are growing rapidly in population, they are developing informally. Current urban planning has proven to be ineffective, according to the World Bank’s African Cities report, and private development is often deterred by opaque or inappropriate regulations.

When it comes to investments in infrastructure, industrial and commercial structures, and affordable formal housing, African cities have, until now, failed to keep pace with the concentration of people, the report states. In Dar es Salaam, 28% of residents live at least three to a room; in Abidjan, that number rises to 50%; and in Lagos, Nigeria, two out of three people dwell in slums.

The World Bank’s African Cities report also states that in cities like Antananarivo, Madagascar; Brazzaville, the Republic of the Congo; and Harare, Zimbabwe, non-contiguous built-up areas are scattered throughout the centre, with more than 30% of land within 5 kilometres of the city centre still left unbuilt.

“The problem of rapid urbanisation is a wicked problem that requires developers and their professional teams to think more systemically. We still find too many examples of Western products, systems and technology that are not appropriate for our conditions being implemented in Africa. We need to ensure that whatever we implement has an African lens applied to it. We need to have empathy and place our people at the centre of everything we do. We call this Afrikan design innovation,” says Abbas Jamie, Director Innovation and Transformation Aurecon Africa.

Over the next 20 years, the rapid growth of Africa’s urban populations is expected to increase the demand for infrastructure, housing and other physical structures, as well as amenities. To meet this new demand, city leaders and planners need adaptable strategies. This is the thinking behind the addition of the Future Cities Africa sub-conference to the Africa Property Investment (API) 2017.

Providing a forum for experts, town planners, city municipalities and Africa’s largest real estate and built environment developers and investors to debate and craft a vision of what an African city should look like, the API Summit & Expo and Future Cities Africa will look at how African governments and institutions can help formalise land markets, clarify property rights, and better leverage off land values to finance Africa’s urban development.

Taking place on 24 and 25 August at the Sandton Convention Centre, the API Summit & Expo will host speakers such as Somik Lall from the World Bank, Abbas Jamie from Aurecon, and Dave Duke from Smec, among others. Registration is open at www.APIsummit.co.za.

Image credit: http://www.apisummit.co.za/speakers/

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