UN-HABITAT believes that future of African cities and their economic growth depends largely on infrastructure investment.
Delivering a keynote address at the African Economic Conference (AEC) held in Tunis, Tunisia the Director of Regional Office for Africa and Arab States (ROAAS) Mr. Alioune Badiane blamed inadequate policies at both the local and central government, lack of political will and transparency in governance for the underdevelopment of urban economies in the continent.
For the African cities to develop economically, Mr. Badiane said that there is need for people’s self-reliance and the leaders’ political will to lead the knowledge construction and sound implementation of policies and programmes within a transparent governance framework and strong institutions.
“The construction and maintenance of roads, highways, ports, airports, urban and inter-urban railways, and other forms of transport systems determine, to a large extent, whether or not cities and countries will succeed economically,” he added.
Jointly organized by the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the conference whose theme was “Globalization, Institutions and Economic Development of Africa,” was aimed at, among others promoting knowledge management as an important component of good policy design and implementation and fostering dialogue and promoting the sharing of ideas among economists and African policy-makers. It brought together some 500 participants.
Transport connectivity and mobility are the most important drivers of city growth in developing regions, particularly in Africa. Two-fifths of the 245 cities in the UN-HABITAT sample of the developing world’s fastest growing cities have benefited from diversification and improvement of regional transport systems, in terms of infrastructure and technology.
Investments in transport not only increase the overall productivity of nations and regions’ economies, but they can also contribute to the maintenance of balanced regional development and the reduction of socio-economic disparities across space and people.
The UN report on the State of the African Cities report states that the processes of urbanization and the growth of cities and towns will favour national development by diversifying incomes, expanding options for more affordable service delivery, and widening horizons for innovation and skill development.
He appealed to the African Development Bank alongside its UN partners and the international community believing in Africa’s development to address the development challenges facing Africa.