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African Cities – rapid urbanisation, emerging opportunties and challenges

Rapid urbanization is fast becoming the key driver of economic change in Africa. It is estimated that in the next 15 years, an additional 350 million people will be living in Africa’s cities. Undoubtedly, this is now the greatest management challenge for Africa’s governments, but what role are African cities playing in these emerging economies?

This was the focus of a Frontier Advisory event on 19 Feb 2014 where Chris Whelan was a guest speaker. Other speakers included Taffy Adler, CEO, Housing Development Agency; Denise Lee, Associate Director – Risk Advisory, Deloitte, and Eskom’s Integrated Demand-side Management Senior Manager, John Thorby. Chris focused on the role that our cities play in the national economy. With our six major cities contributing over 50% of South Africa’s GDP, ‘cities must have greater autonomy and a greater level of accountability and responsibility for economic growth on a national level.

Much of the national dialogue is about development, but we need economic growth for development’. Other issues raised were: attracting international investors to South Africa to access opportunities on the continent; ensuring that African cities remain globally competitive, and water and energy challenges as Africa grows. As stated by John Thorby of Eskom, ‘currently South Africa produces just below 50% of Africa’s electricity, which could be problematic as economic growth is linked to energy growth. The future solution lies in adopting new technologies rather than building huge new power stations’.

Coverage from the event:  Enabling national environment needed for cities to drive economic growth – Engineering News, 20 Feb 2014

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