[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: Harnessing the potential of African intermediary cities
Africa’s urbanization rate has reached a record high with the continent being the most urbanized globally. That urbanization has presented a cocktail of challenges and opportunities that Africa is seeking to address and tap into.
A sizeable number of the urban population is now concentrated in secondary cities referred to as intermediary cities which has necessitated the need to have workable systems in place.
To fastrack development of sustainable cities that are able to comfortably accommodate the ballooning population, African and world leaders are this week meeting in Kisumu, an intermediary city in Kenya to deliberate on lasting and practical solutions to turbo charge urban economies. The theme of this edition of the Africities Summit is “The role of intermediary cities in Africa in the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the African Union Agenda 2063”.
At the conference, whose ambassador is Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o, the first edition of the Africities Trade and Invest Forum (ATIF) took place to help local government to respond to one of the 5 key functions for the city or territory: providing cities with basic services and amenities. The event was organized by the AfDB, AFREXIMBANK, AfCFTA, ABSA, UNCDF, and UCLG Africa.
At the same event, local governments have been partnering with 01Talent Africa, a pan-African businesses working together to solve the talent gap in Africa with unique, home-grown solutions, to tap and harness the digital skills of young people and professionals in the continent.
During the event, the African Development Bank and Cities Alliance released a major report entitled "Dynamics of Secondary Cities in Africa: Urbanization, Migration and Development" which provides a comprehensive overview, enriched with case studies, on intermediary cities of the continent.
Intermediary cities are home to about 15% of Africa's population. But their growth is accelerating. By 2040, two-thirds of the people who move to urban areas will be moving to intermediary cities. Consequently investment needs are growing. The challenge is now to guarantee basic social services and to turn these cities into economic growth hubs to rebalance the territories.
This, as UNDP called for more investment in people-centered local governance structures that are responsive and inclusive.
Besides enhancing state governance capacity that helps African countries improve service delivery, African governments also need to tackle the challenge of the legitimacy of authority, peace, and stability to advance economic development and promote national and social cohesion, including building dialogue between government and government public. If local communities are well organized and cohesive, they too can play a critical role in strengthening social cohesion and sustaining peace in fragile settings because most conflicts tend to occur at the local level (that is, ethnic conflicts and land disputes), the organization noted.
Still on the Africities Summit, The elective general assembly of United Cities of Local Government of Africa (UCLG Africa) elected the new office bearers of the organization, namely the 45 members of the UCLG Africa Pan African Council; the 15 members of the Executive Committee; the 5 members of the UCLG Africa Financial Management Committee; the 5 Vice Presidents, among which the Region of Nouakchott, Mauritania represented by its President, Mrs. Fatimetou Abdel Malick, was elected the new President of UCLG Africa.