Analysis in brief / Groaning under the weight of unplanned growth, African cities struggle to be habitable. Taking urban planning seriously will become vitally necessary as the continent’s population becomes larger and more urban. The key is intelligent city planning, starting at the drawing board.
- African cities have been allowed to grow ungainly and unsafe as, for decades, local and national officials have been commissioned and then city planning studies were ignored
- A growing African middle-class is demanding more liveable cities and applying political pressure on local and national officials to improve urban environments
- Stricter zoning and green technology will bring investors to cities, generating revenues for urban improvements
Most African cities were not meant to be – that is, they were planned as congenial little ‘white’s only’” colonial towns that were never intended to be giant metropolises hosting millions of residents. When colonialism ended, urban migrants brought country dwellers in search of jobs to cities where they were now legally permitted to live. No thought went into where the new millions would live, how utility services would be provided, or for social necessities from parks to schools. The result was chaos – cities choked by pollution and traffic nightmares, and festering with township slums much larger than developed central business districts. In June 2017, the World Bank released another of its periodic reports on Uganda’s urban situation and blamed poor city planning for contributing to high unemployment. For one thing, potential investors are off-put by the dilapidated physical appearance of Kampala. Co-sponsored by the Kampala Capital City Authority, the study, “Enhancing economic development and job creation in greater Kampala” found transportation systems and building codes also failed to support a business-friendly environment.