According to UN-HABITAT, African cities must prepare to host half a billion people over the next twenty years. The move towards urbanization is an opportunity for new sources of jobs, urban people being net consumers of the services and goods they need on a daily basis; to eat, to house, to move, to recreate, to heal, to educate, etc. In general it is the informal sector and imports which provide the answers to most of these needs of citizens in African cities in the absence of formal structures for the production of goods and services. Urbanization therefore presents itself on the continent as a major challenge, but also and above all as an opportunity to develop the sector of the modern economy in order to meet the present demands of the populations.
To do this, Africa, which has the youngest population in the world and predominantly urban, needs attractive cities to create modern jobs and realize its future potential, this is why the continent must assume a leading role on the urban thematic. The new urban agenda suggests that these cities are more equitable for people and goods.
For the Brookings Institution in its latest report entitled “ForesightAfrica2020”, the New UN-Habitat Urban Agenda called HABITAT III “suggests that these cities are more equitable for people and goods. They are well planned, housing is affordable and devoid of spatial segregation; residents are well connected to opportunities and to each other; it is both possible and useful to walk, because sprawl is restricted, sidewalks are priority, pollution is low, energy is sustainable, technology is used creatively and all people are welcome (except maybe criminals, because these cities are supposed to be safe). All of these aspects are in some way related to the shape of cities. “
If since Habitat I (1976), almost 45 years, the international community which has taken up the issue of the rampant urbanization of the world, has remained powerless to stem the massive growth in the number of people living in precarious neighborhoods and under-equipped, particularly in Africa. Is Africa’s desire to redefine the nature of its relations within the continent and with the rest of the world in line with the realization of the New Urban Agenda?
According to African experts, Agenda 2063 (African Union, 2015), which can be read as Africa’s contribution to various global political objectives and processes, takes into account the urban transition of Africa which is considered as an opportunity to achieve the objectives set out by the African Union (AU) in its long strategic vision for an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, led by its own citizens, and representing a dynamic force on the international scene”. This Agenda 2063 presents in these great aspirations to the number of 7, great similarities with the international summits of the United Nations convened in 2015 and 2016, on disaster risk reduction (Sendai), on financing for development (Addis Ababa) , on the sustainable development objectives for 2030 (New York), the climate summit (Paris) and Habitat III (Quito). These aspirations foreshadow “the future we want for Africa”. For example, Aspiration n ° 1 provides that “cities and other establishments are centers of cultural and economic activities, equipped with modern infrastructure, and where populations have access to all essential basic services, including housing , water, sanitation, energy, public transport and ICT ”.
In addition, Agenda 2063 defines a ten-year implementation program that enables it to transpose into continental law the resolutions of international agreements on urbanization.
Despite taking into account the recommendations of international agreements in the plans for implementing Agenda 2063 and the awareness of many political leaders on the continent of the importance of cities in the economic development of countries, many deficits persist :
– the deficits of the African continent in terms of infrastructure weaken its industrial development and highlight the sinking of its manufacturing added value. Rapid urbanization offers the opportunity to invest in sustainable infrastructure that can make cities productive and competitive, creating platforms where the private sector can thrive, and where talents and FDI from around the world can produce for markets local and for the rest of the world;
– agricultural added value remains very low by world standards, due in particular to limited agricultural investment, which in turn is responsible for the insufficient coverage of the irrigation network and rampant food insecurity. Rapid urbanization offers the opportunity to strengthen investment in the agricultural sector beyond the increase in public investment allocated to agriculture to the tune of 10% of national budgets, in accordance with the recommendations of the Maputo Protocol, and d ‘increase the productivity of the sector, reduce imports and feed African cities and the world;
– despite certain advantages such as the moderate motorization of cities and the fact that African cities and metropolises are generally compact, they suffer from a lack of systematic planning or from the non-implementation of plans carried out according to the rules of the art. Rapid urbanization offers the opportunity to fill the gaps in the urban fabric and to densify cities to improve accessibility;
– despite the opening of debates in the process of international agreements to a variety of public and private non-state actors who embody the new strength of cities, these agreements are above all produced for countries and their contextualization at the level of local authorities and local governments are largely lacking and undermines their effective implementation;
– the absence of non-state actors engaged in African countries (associations, NGOs, think thank, etc.) capable of disseminating the conclusions of these agreements in all the social strata of the nations makes popular adhesion and implementation difficult effective implementation of these agreements at regional level.