The Economic Commission for Africa on Friday launched a new project that aims to transform Africa’s cities and improve the wellbeing of its citizens.
The project titled; “Designing and implementing strategies for building inclusive and sustainable cities” is being implemented in Cameroon, Zambia, Cabo Verde, Uganda and Morocco as a pilot programme.
Speaking at the launch, Ms. Edlam Yemeru, the Chief of the Urbanization Section in the Social Development Policy Division, said the project invites governments and their partners to consider urbanization from a cross-sectoral and strategic perspective.
“Urbanization is a multi-dimensional phenomena and thus cannot be left to only one ministry to handle. The project reiterates that urbanization must be fused into the national development planning process for it to be meaningful,” said Ms. Yemeru.
She said the ECA is working towards ensuring the project is part of a broader programmatic prioritization of renewal of planning, mainstreaming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in national development plans and urbanization data and statistics.
“As such, beyond the coordinated and harmonized approach, we will ensure that ECA will engage in deeper policy dialogues based on the lessons learned from the implementation of the project. We will continue to document good practices and assure you of a long-term engagement,” Ms. Yemeru said, adding the project will no doubt go a long way in helping transform Africa’s cities and wellbeing of its citizens.
More gains can be expected from Africa’s rapid urbanization if the urbanization is planned in an integrated and strategic manner through cross sectoral engagement of ministries, Ms. Edlam told government officials and representatives of various private and public entities gathered for the launch.
She highlighted that structural transformation has for the past few years been the central focus of ECA in line with the continental vision of Agenda 2063. Industrialization, Ms. Yemeru said, is at core of the continent’s structural transformation agenda with its huge potential to contributing towards job creation and sustained economic growth as well as human and social development.
Industrialization and urbanization, Ms. Yemeru said, are mutually reinforcing if deliberately connected through appropriate policies and strategies.
Uganda’s Minister of State for Finance Planning and Economic Development, David Bahati, said the project was timely and crucial, adding its objectives were in line with the country’s aspirations as enshrined in their vision 2040 programme as well as other national plans and sustainable development goal number 11; ‘Making cities and human settlements inclusive, liveable, productive, safe, resilient and sustainable’.
He pointed out that existing data suggests that Africa as a continent and Uganda as a country have high rates of urbanization, 4.8 and 5.2 percent respectively.
Mr. Bahati called for prudent policy-making which he said was critical to push the urban agenda and in turn improving service delivery systems as well as ensuring effective, efficient, inclusive and sustainable urban development in African cities.
“Throughout history, urbanization has been, and continues to be a source of development rather than only an outcome. Because of this, well thought and planned urbanization can therefore be used as a powerful tool for creating employment and livelihoods,” he said.
He expressed his appreciation to the ECA for initiating the project and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to fully implement the project alongside the other countries that are also in the pilot programme.
Resource persons from the ECA’s Social Development Policy Division will work with National Implementation Teams from the five countries as well as a cross-sectoral team comprising experts from several sectors, including development planning, finance, economic development, trade, infrastructure, industry, agriculture, housing and urban planning as well as statistics to implement the project on the ground.
The project, which will be piloted in five countries, is financed through the Development Account, a capacity development programme of the United Nations Secretariat, aiming to enhance capacities of developing countries in priority areas of the United Nations Development Agenda. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is an implementation partner.