The African Development Bank (AfDB) says Africa needs to implement a vigorous structural transformation agenda to bridge gaps that inhibit the creation of sustainable cities.
AfDB Acting Director for Development Research Abebe Shimeles said the institution was thus engaging African governments on bridging gaps in areas such as infrastructure development and promoting access to quality human services by the people.
Shimeles was speaking during a panel discussion at the ongoing AfDB Annual Meetings, which commenced in Lusaka, Zambia, on Monday.
His comments came during the official launch of the African Economic Outlook report for 2016 under the theme: “Sustainable cities and structural transformation in Africa”.
The Annual Meeting is taking place at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre from Monday, May 23 to Friday, May 27, 2016 under the theme “Energy and Climate Change”.
Shimeles said the Bank had taken major steps towards investing in programmes to aid policy-makers at various structures of governments’ develop and implement strategies towards creating sustainable cities.
“Africa needs to vigorously follow structural transformation and the Bank has taken steps of engaging policy-makers to ensure that the cities we create are sustainable to enhance programmes such as job creation for young people,” Shimeles said.
During the same event, UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary General Aisa Kirabo Kacyira said policies to create sustainable cities should go beyond creation to actual implementation.
Kacyira called on African leaders to identify with urbanisation as human phenomenon which can either be a success or failure based on the commitment of the people implementing the exercise.
Mo Ibrahim Foundation Executive Director Abdoulie Janneh said his organisation was optimistic that Africa could create sustainable cities if programmes such as regional integration were further enhanced.
“The organisation has noted that Africa is making a lot of progress from the governance point of view in ensuring that structural transformation is applied in the creation of sustainable cities,” he said.
For his part, Rockefeller Foundation Africa Managing Director Mamadou Biteye stressed the need for resilience in programmes that governments are implementing to create sustainable cities.
This, Biteye said, would ensure that countries managed to create sustainable cities even during times when their economies were suppressed by fiscal challenges.
“Economic stress will undermine the growth agenda of a particular city hence the call for resilience to ensure that the cities’ transformation towards providing better goods and services is enhanced,” Biteye said.
He also used the event to announce that his organisation was compiling a list of 100 ‘resilient cities’ across the world with the last 33 to be announced at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, this Wednesday.
Kigali, Rwanda; Durban, South Africa; and Arusha in Tanzania are already among the 100 resilient cities.
In his contribution to the discussion, Rwandan Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gatete said his country had harmonised the operations of the central and local government institutions to create sustainable cities.
This, Gatete said, has improved goods and service delivery to the people in Kigali, the country’s capital, and Rwanda at large.