‘Population growth rates in Africa are projected to double the continent’s population from 1 billion in 2010 to 2 billion in 2040. This growth is also accompanied by an accelerated transition from rural to urban population majorities, which perhaps constitutes the most important challenge and opportunity presented to Africa’s nations. The population of urban dwellers is expected to increase from 40% in 2010 (400 million) to 50% (roughly 1 billion) by 2035. Similar to other parts of the world, urbanisation in Africa has occurred in tandem with economic growth in real GDP and an increase in middle class households.
While there are various benefits and opportunities associated with rapid urbanisation, general or region-specific challenges also need to be identified and addressed. Changing demographics, limited urban industries, infrastructure needs, environmental degradation, and climate change are some of the main areas that require solutions for a sustainable urban future in Africa.
The Habitat III Africa Regional Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, was an opportunity for regional stakeholders to meet, discuss, and identify priorities for sustainable urban development in the coming decades. The meeting gathered a wide range of participants and resulted in the Abuja Declaration which highlights the voices of Africa in the ongoing Habitat III process.
The remarkable growth in African cities presents a unique opportunity to take strides in developing urban innovations towards more sustainable, equitable, healthier, and inclusive urban centres. Through interactive discussions and presentations, the Habitat III Africa Regional Meeting provided a platform where African cities and diverse stakeholders could share and reimagine approaches to regional urbanisation to strengthen positive transitions and to improve existing conditions. It gathered recommendations reflecting the consensus reached at the regional level on a spectrum of topics.
As with all Habitat III Thematic and Regional Meetings, the declaration resulting from the regional meeting will be considered official inputs to the Habitat III process, and will ultimately support the final outcome of the Habitat III Conference (i.e., the New Urban Agenda) to be held in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016.’