Environment

African Urbanisation – Matching the Right Skills

One is forced to ask the question what would African urbanisation had been like if the Europeans never visited? But alas, they were here and the question may never be fully answered, since, the story of Africa is largely unwritten, distorted, and segmented. Very many stories were told as remembered.

However, since customary practices out dates statutory laws, Africans believe in the oral presentations, after all, it is also a relevant source for data collection. All interviews are oral before it becomes a written speech, therefore, African stories told over the centuries, with repetition of the same story told by different people can be said to be reliable information. Likewise, urban Africa dates back to prehistorical times as the continent marks the cradle of human civilization with evidence from Egypt and Nubia-Kush, the Mayans, the Arawaks and the Moors culture shows evidence of historical urban centres. Today majority blacks are found in Africa, therefore the need to consider African cities growth.

So, how can a continent once prominent and sophisticated reduce to ashes of itself? The reason, in my opinion, is wrong decisions made by the leaders, greed and the loss of human conscience.

Although, urbanisation in Africa is on the increase with alarming growth rates. Projections show that the current world population is now at 7.3 billion projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by the year 2100. By 2050, Sub- Saharan Africa annual urbanisation growth rate is expected to be 0.9% with a population growth rate of 2.9% and an added 944 million urban dwellers bringing the total population to 2.4 billion (McGranahan and Satterthwaite, 2014). Nigeria’s population is on the increase with the current population put at over 182 million inhabitants. A look at sustainable planning today in Africa focus more on activities rather than people. The urban centres attract the wrong skills.

Theory of Agglomeration Economies is vital in the support of a sustainable urban culture, environment, and society by matching people with the right job. This includes sharing creating advantages of scale, matching results in efficiency gains and learning which leads to advantages of scope (Duranton and Puga, 2004).  Walking through the streets of Okene, I see disarray in the street design and confusion in planning and figured that if the right people occupy the roadsides, aesthetic of the town will be a pleasure to behold. It is not the poor that creates problems for the city rather it is the result of the exclusion of the poor from the city during designs and implementation and as a result, they have to provide alternative solutions for themselves (Payne, 2004).

Many urban cities of Africa today do not match with the skills that populate it. The searches for better jobs to improve the living condition, access to health facilities drive many inhabitants to the urban centres who upon arrival have poor, little or no skills for the environment. Planning do not also include skills of the migrating population into city design, thus a problem is been created that requires attention from policymakers and professionals. Therefore, Agglomeration Economies theory is relevant to ensure that African cities are sustainable.

Author : JOY OBADOBA

Born on 21st of April into a family of 4. She had risen in career and academics. She is an urban planner, amiable and passionate about planning in African cities.

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