The future for African cities

The African Development Bank (AfDB) identified the management of rapid urbanisation in already overburdened cities as one of the key challenges for African policy makers in the coming decades.

Currently, many African cities and settlements find themselves in a position where several mainstream development approaches are:

• impractical;
• expensive;
• require long lead times to implement; and
• may not necessarily yield the developmental impacts sought to transform the lives of their populations.

Across the African continent, experience suggests that viewing the work of cities through a “business as usual” approach is yielding few required or desired results. The emergence of urbanisation in Africa has been accompanied with the growth of a consumer class that represents a major driver of growth and transformation on the continent.

Developing sustainable cities of the future in Africa

There is evidence of a significant urban middle class emerging across the continent – the World Bank estimates that almost half of Africa’s countries have now attained middle income status. Discretionary incomes are gradually emerging in highly urbanised settlements and are changing economic and social realities.

Now is indeed time to lead by initiating a movement toward sustainable African cities. This is critical for unearthing both the small practical solutions to the impending challenges facing the African cities, as well as the more high level solutions required at a systems level.

KPMG’s approach to city development is to work with African cities in pursuit of achieving sustainable cities. Our framework for assessing a sustainable city is based on a wide range of thought leadership; our approach combines best practice that is internationally accepted.

5 perspectives

[Caption: This figure illustrates the five perspectives that constitute KPMG’s approach to assessing and viewing sustainable cities.]

Five perspectives of a sustainable city

The Productive City contains key institutions that create an enabling environment for meaningful and effective participation in the economy. This could include the number of sustainable employment opportunities, attracting investment and enabling the establishment and functioning of small businesses.

The Resilient City is able to anticipate, withstand and adapt successfully to challenging conditions. This could include effective disaster management systems and integration of public transit systems.

The Green City encourages the sustainable use and development of environmental systems that support city life. This could include a reduction in GHG emissions, land utilisation that supports sustainable land use, and integrated waste management systems that reduce the use of landfills.

The Smart City has the required information and technology to improve the management of cities whilst harnessing the benefits of city communities who have access to technology. This could include the level of connectivity for households, as well as e-government systems that enable the provision of services virtually.

The Well-Governed City contains an institutional framework of governance and processes that prioritise catalytic infrastructure whilst responding to political realities and local development needs. This could include financial sustainability of the city with effective risk management practices, as well as appropriate institutional arrangements.

The Inclusive City is focused on reducing the “urban divide” that is characterised by the prevalence of inequality, poverty and slum formation in rapidly urbanising cities. This could include affordable access to basic services which could include water, sanitation, and electricity and refuse removal.

Paramount to our approach in applying these five perspectives to an assessment of a cities development is the consultative process that we follow whereby the city leaders drive the process.

What do you think of KPMG’s approach to assessing and viewing sustainable cities?

David Okwara

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