African leaders urged to seize the moment for visionary city planning
As Africa undergoes swift urbanization, city leaders must carefully weigh decisions that could have lasting consequences for equity, poverty and resilience to climate change. That’s the overarching theme of The State of African Cities 2014: Re-imagining sustainable urban transitions.
The 273-page report is the third on the subject since 2008. It was published by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) with assistance from the African office of ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability and United Cities and Local Governments Africa (UCLGA).
The report warns that much of Africa’s urban growth is occurring in smaller, secondary cities that lack the experience and resources to handle the influx. It also addresses the controversy surrounding new satellite cities that proponents herald as Africa’s future but critics dismiss as enclaves for business elites.
With less than half of Africa’s population in urban areas, there are ample opportunities to make decisions that promote green, inclusive, energy-efficient cities, the authors say. Leaders must govern wisely, though, because decisions made today can lock cities and countries into narrow development paths, they warn.