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The 7 fastest-growing sub-Saharan African cities

The population of Africa has significantly increased over the past decade.

Many sub-Saharan cities are experiencing high levels of industrialization, urbanization, and economic activities. They’re also seeing increased immigration, which is contributing to the fast-growing rate.

Director of Brookings’ Africa Growth Initiative, Brahima Coulibaly, believes that approximately half of the world’s fastest-growing economies will be located on the continent. There are 20 economies expanding at an average rate of 5% or higher over the next year, which is faster than the global rate of 3.6%.

By 2050, Africa’s population is forecasted to reach two billion people. To support this growth, a lot of work and planning is needed, investing in affordable, resilient and more sustainable housing in Africa. Here are some examples of what strategies are underway.

1. Accra, Ghana

Accra has quickly become the economic center of the country. The unprecedented growth and population increase have outpaced urban planning leaving the region with multiple challenges. In addition, the area is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding.

The city has developed a resilience strategy to address these challenges through a range of initiatives. Some of the 27 projects include strengthening drain design and performance, upgrading selected informal settlements, and formalizing incentive programs for developers to utilize energy-efficient technologies.

2. Ibadan, Nigeria

Ibadan has seen growing interest from entrepreneurs. The city is located close to the commercial hub of Lagos and is the third most populated city in Nigeria. Despite having the most landmass in the country, the population is rapidly growing, which has caught authorities off guard.

The response to the issue and a devastating flood in 2011 was the development of the Urban Flood Management Plan. The strategy covers a span of 300,000 hectares and outlines a 20-year vision for the city. It incorporates a framework for urban development to meet the future needs of the growing population.

3. Dakar, Senegal

The capital of Senegal is considered one of the most historical cities in Africa and is home to some of the best ports in the country. It plays a vital trade role, particularly between West Africa and Europe. As such, the population has increased significantly and forced the mayor of the city to develop an urban resilience strategy.

Some of the challenges the city is facing include a growing need for energy, low sanitation capacity, and the impacts of climate change. According to their report, more than 300 buildings could disappear by 2080 due to rising sea levels. Some of the initiatives to address these risks include evaluating the use of energy-efficient mechanical systems, installing public recycling bins, and implementing procedures to promote green lifestyles.

4. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Four million people currently call Addis Ababa home. But by 2100[BF1] , this number is expected to grow to more than 35 million. The city is the capital of Ethiopia and also the largest in the region. But it still requires a robust development framework to manage this significant growth in population.

The city recognizes the challenges, particularly when it comes to job demand, housing, and infrastructure. There is also an increase in hazards and risks to deal with. Some of the goals they’re aiming for include improving access to infrastructure and essential services, promoting climate-resilient green development, and creating more and better jobs for the youth and women. The plan is broken down into short, mid, and long-term objectives with the goal for many of these initiatives to be completed or underway within five years.

5. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

It might not be a capital city, but Dar es Salaam has over six million people living in it. By the end of the century, it’s expected to have more than 70 million. The port contributes significantly to economic activities and is one of the many reasons it has seen migration and urbanization.

There is not a specific strategy in place for Dar es Salaam. Instead, it is wrapped up in the Tanzania National Five-Year Development Plan III. There are many objectives, including accelerating inclusive economic growth through poverty reduction.

6. Luanda, Angola

Luanda has already seen significant growth since 2005. It has gone from 4.8 million to more than seven. The capital of Angola primarily trades commodities and resources such as crude oil through the country.

There is a long-term development strategy for Angola in place that incorporates Luanda. As part of the population policy, the aim is to improve living conditions in a sustainable way by changing demographic trends. They also have objectives to eliminate extreme poverty and reduce social inequalities. There are many initiatives in place and underway, with a target set for completion by 2025.

7. Lagos, Nigeria

The Lagos government has already raised the city’s struggle to lower the population influx. Officially there are over 20 million people living in the region. But other sources claim that it’s closer to 25 million. By 2050, this number is expected to increase to 45 million.

The city has come up with a resilience strategy featuring three pillars. Within each of them are three goals. They range from developing an integrated transport system to improving access to clean water, sanitation, and affordable and reliable energy. They all roll up into the vision for Lagos, which is to empower its people to thrive, adapt, and grow sustainably.

How to stay up to date

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for action across sub-Saharan African cities. While many of these issues already existed and were in the process of getting addressed, the pace of growth has reached the point where it now requires action.

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