On Wednesday the United Nations Population Fund released an insightful report – State of World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth – detailing it’s research on the future of global urbanization. Declaring that “urbanization is unavoidable”, the most interesting predictions were that by 2030 the populations in African and Asian cities will have doubled. The populations of those cities will be greater than the number of people living in China and the United States combined.
While the worldâ€™s urban population grew very rapidly (from 220 million to 2.8 billion) over the 20th century, the next few decades will see an unprecedented scale of urban growth in the developing world. This will be particularly notable in Africa and Asia where the urban population will double between 2000 and 2030: That is, the accumulated urban growth of these two regions during the whole span of history will be duplicated in a single generation. By 2030, the towns and cities of the developing world will make up 80 percent of urban humanity.
The report details that the growth will take place primarily in small cities and towns raising a concern about whether developing nations, particularly in Africa, have the infrastructure to manage this growth. We all know that many African cities, such as Dakar, are already becoming hubs of activity, but the predicted urban explosion will bring a new generation of citizens who would have been raised within the digital age. Will African enterprise adapt to the change in time?
Without a doubt global youth culture is already influencing big business. But will the explosion of Africa’s cities coincide with it’s youth’s contribution to global culture? And how will African government react to the sudden change?
In a few days African leaders will convene in Ghana to discuss forming a United States of Africa (USA???!!!). We can only hope that they take the UN report with them and realize that cities are market makers and the infrastructure that support urban areas play a large part in how successful a region is. About cities and economics Wendy Waters explains, “It comes down to how easy it is for people and companies to flow into (and out of, ironically enough) the region.” The UN report says “… no country in the industrial age has ever achieved significant economic growth without urbanization. Cities concentrate poverty, but they also represent the best hope of escaping it.” and Head Heeb adds, “African cities in the next decades will have to be everyone’s commitment.” I will predict that the trend of African youth’s influence on global business and media will explode alongside the growth of cities, with or without government’s support.
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