African local leaders eye 'sustainable development' to cope with urban boom

2018-11-25 10:06
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A leader of an umbrella group of local governments from across Africa insisted on Friday that "sustainable development" is needed to cope with the challenges of rapid urbanisation on the continent.

Thousands of delegates are meeting for the Africities Summit that brings together local leaders, civil society, governments and international donors every three years.

This year's gathering in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh is focusing on the "transition to sustainable cities and territories" and the role of local governments in Africa.

"Sustainable development is the only alternative for African cities," said Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, the secretary general of umbrella group United Cities and Local Governments of Africa.

He called for African local authorities to learn lessons and "not repeat the errors of European cities" and other developing nations as they look to cope with rapid rises in populations.

Cities across Africa are already struggling to cope with overcrowding and are predicted to grow to over 1 billion people by 2040, meaning that one in two people on the continent will live in urban areas.

With cities and towns swelling, African governments are facing up to a raft of issues.

Land disputes, pollution, increased poverty and the risk of infectious diseases are all increasing headaches as urban areas boom.

"The demographic challenge is the main challenge in Africa because we are on an upwards curve," said Mbassi.

"It is only from 2060 that we will begin to see a decline in the population."

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