Inspiration .

Urban Planning .

By Isabel dos Santos .

5 challenges for Cities

Africa must prepare itself right now to receive the 1.7 billion people that will be living on the continent by 2030. In fact, by 2050 Angola’s population will almost have tripled, from the current 27 million to over 76 million people. In light of the population growth rates for the coming decade, town planning is a must for our cities. It is a tremendous challenge and it cannot wait.

1. Planning, preparing and designing

One of the greatest challenges we face today is the fast growth in urban areas before suitable infrastructures are built. Cities grow in a disorderly manner and the required investment does not keep pace. Adapting new infrastructures in a city that has already grown can cost three times as much as it would have at the start of the urban expansion. Anticipating the infrastructure before the population arrives is not only intelligent but also cost effective. This fact is particularly important when we consider that 2/3 of African cities are yet to be built.

2. Infrastructure and connectivity

Cities are true drivers of economic development, but they also present major challenges such as traffic congestion and overpopulation. For an economy to develop its full potential, infrastructure is important but connectivity between urban areas, ports and airports is also crucial. When a city has good connections, companies want to invest there: they can cut costs, increase specialisation and productivity. Cities become real job-creating machines.

3. Property rights

We need streets with names, houses with numbers, addresses, so that we can own our cities and homes. Only then can we exercise citizenship. It is important to develop property rights and this registration process needs to be accompanied by a dynamic property market, in which inhabitants can change where they live.

4. Managing cities

Cities are genuine prosperity engines and we need to feel that our taxes will be spent on building new schools and better neighbourhoods for our children and families. A city must be entitled to sources of revenue that can then be used for everyone’s benefit. Aware of our duties as citizens we should demand the right to an inclusive and affluent city.

5. Inclusive cities

We should all be concerned about inclusive cities. We need to manage our land correctly and plan our urban development projects, based on a single principle: the well-being of all. We are not talking just about building, but rather seeing the city as living spaces. How to keep communities alive and interconnected, with a feeling of belonging. Safe, pleasant, environmentally friendly and sustainable cities. We have to view this challenge as an opportunity. There is no margin for error. Cities must be a priority today, so that tomorrow they can welcome everyone with open arms.