What can representatives of African cities learn from their counterparts from the rest of the world? To answer that question, the African Development Bank invited representatives of African municipalities to the 11th World Urban Forum held from 26-30 June in Katowice, Poland. The Forum is the largest international conference addressing urban development.
The Bank invited representatives of the cities of Dodoma in Tanzania and Sèmè-Podji in Benin, as well as government housing ministries, to share their experiences during a roundtable titled “Financing Resilient and Liveable African Cities.”
Stefan Atchia, Head of the Bank’s Urban Development Division, said: “This is the first time the Bank has organized such a session focused on African cities at this international conference organized by the United Nations. We believe that the cities of the continent will enrich the debate with original points of view.”
Africa is the most rapidly urbanizing continent in the world, a trend that is creating a need for significant infrastructure construction. The proliferation of informal settlements, the predominance of informal economic activities and the central role played by community-based organizations all require creative responses regarding urban planning, project preparation and financing. African cities are also in the forefront of dealing with the consequences of climate change.
Daniel Garwe, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Housing and Social Amenities, said: “We need to develop financing and revenue collection models that fit the diverse contexts in which we operate. This will allow us to address the issue of informal settlements and create smart and sustainable solutions for our cities. This is a critical issue for Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.”
Marcus Mayr, coordinator of the Urban and Municipal Development Fund (UMDF), a new African Development Bank-backed fund designed to support African cities in their planning and financing strategies, said: “The strong presence of the African Development Bank at the World Urban Forum demonstrates the growing importance of urban development in the strategy of our institution, and beyond: cities are a lever for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations. It is about making them more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable.”
During the Forum, the Bank also presented a report titled Dynamics of Urbanization in Africa 2022 – The Economic Radiance of African Cities. This study, co-published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, showcases many opportunities offered by urbanization in Africa.
On June 29, the Bank also launched the publication, Strengthening Basic Services in African Cities, produced in cooperation with the United Nations and Cities Alliance, a global partnership fighting urban poverty and supporting cities to deliver sustainable development.
Atchia said: “This synthesis publication invites inventive experimentation, including nature-based solutions, circular economy, digital, gender issues. This document can be a source of inspiration for the Bank and its partners.”
The publication is part of the “Action Plan for Sustainable Urban Development,” which will guide the Bank’s strategic commitment to Africa’s urban development over the next five years (2022 – 2026).