East Africa’s island tourism opportunities

The Future of Our Cities

It has been noted that cities are key to connecting countries to the increasingly globalised world – in many instances cities serve as both economic and creative hubs. In Africa, we are seeing a trend of rapid-urbanisation, with many Africans seeking a better future and prospect in the developed cities of the continent. As a result, these cities are facing ever-increasing challenges. These challenges include service delivery and the massive infrastructure deficit.

It was highlighted, in a recent Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) article, that due to the multifaceted nature of cities, the impacts of their activity are far reaching, socially, politically, economically, and environmentally. The article goes on to say that the key to effective management of cities lies in efficient collaboration between local, provincial, national and international stakeholders.

With rapid-urbanisation, the existing African cities are already over-burdened. It has been noted that the management of these cities is one of the key challenges for African policy makers in the coming decades.

Environmental consciousness

Increasingly, the subject of sustainability is coming to the fore in the context of cities and their development across South Africa and Africa. There is increased demand for a triple-bottom-line approach, where the impact on the environment is a key consideration. We have frequently mentioned the massive infrastructure deficit that the region faces, and it is important to acknowledge that infrastructure development has the propensity to have quite drastic environmental impact.

The focus is therefore, to develop infrastructure and cities in such a way that carbon emissions are reduced and environmental sustainability is taken into consideration. In the GIBS article, reference is made to technologically informed development as a means to create a sustainable development plan for cities and infrastructure.

South African cities

South African cities are the predominant focus of the previously referenced GIBS article, it is mentioned that SA’s cities still face more basic developmental challenges.

While plans for sustainable urban development are on the policy agenda, community protests over service delivery, disputes about councillor selection, mismanagement and under-spending of municipal budgets, and recurrent billing problems, remain at the forefront of public concern.“

The article goes on to say that the infrastructure and service delivery failures across the country are largely due to issues and poor performance at a municipal level.

Service delivery and infrastructure problems evident at the city level are, to a large extent, the consequences of poor governance and poor accountability within local government structures.”

The tension between issuing plans for sustainable design and urban renewal, and having to face up to the huge gamut of governance failures, presents opportunities for, as well as threats to, the future of our cities.”

Closing sentiment

Resource constraints and infrastructure inadequacies continue to pose a significant challenge for cities across the country. A lack of existing legislation enabling national government to act when there is poor performance at municipal level compound the issues. Successful and efficient partnerships in managing cities, along with a development plan rooted in sustainability, is key to successful growth and development.

The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) is holding a forum event on the 30 July 2013. The focus of this event is the future of South Africa cities. In this article we have shared some of the key points and sentiments that will be discussed during the forum. The information in this article was originally shared by GIBS in collaboration with the Helen Suzman Foundation.

Are you attending the July 30th forum? Share your views on cities across Africa here….

David Okwara

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