Africa’s New Era of Growth

Like much of the developing world Africa is in the midst of an urban population explosion, however, in Africa, the consequences of that growth seem to be more detrimental. Growth in urban centers usually is a good thing, it is a sign of growing economies, dynamic societies, and industrial advancements. In Africa’s urban centers’ innovation, creativity and tradition collide, and those end products form the new cultural capital that the West is clamoring to invest in. From fashion to tech and manufacturing these burgeoning African sectors compose what should be a bright future for the continent.

Africa's megacities

By 2030, Africa is slated to hold six of the world’s mega cities, this growth projection signals great things for the continent and her respective nations but also signals serious issues for these urban spaces and their inhabitants. This is because expansion and growth can often devolve into something messy and economically counterproductive. In short, rapid growth without proper urban planning, infrastructure development, and investment can be cancerous and lead to increased crime, urban decay, and socio-economic disenfranchisement. Moreover these already complex concepts around population dynamics, urban development and equability investment are complicated by a global climate that is changing rapidly.

Africa's megacities

Why is Climate Change  A Game Changer?

Africa’s six megacities include Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana), Cairo (Egypt), Kinshasa (DRC), Johannesburg (South Africa), and Nairobi (Kenya), they represent large chunks of Africa’s economic strength and vitality. However, climate change and subsequent consequences pose serious threats to these urban centers. Take into account that Lagos, Accra, Cairo, and Kinshasa are set on major bodies of water, with rising sea levels this places those metropoles at risk for widespread flooding. In the cases of Lagos and Accra, their coastal placements mean that flooding is currently an issue being combated much like in Miami and New York City. However, unlike Miami and New York City, neither Lagos or Accra has the substantive plans or existing infrastructure to counter sea level rise. Lagos has recently started a project known as “Eko Atlantic“, Eko Atlantic is a planned city in Lagos that is slated to include a seawall to prevent erosion and flooding but that seawall is not comprehensive and only offers protection to more affluent sectors of the city.

Africa's megacities

Beyond sea level rise, global climate change will further accelerate and advance population migration to urban centers, these migrations will be spurred by shortages in clean water and available food sources. Although these issues already seem like a mainstay for the continent, climate change is poised to further exacerbate droughts and water shortages. This can mean more than a developmental problem for African megacities but can cause regional conflicts over limited resources, further feeding a cycle of instability. Currently, all six megacities have an underdeveloped water-carrying infrastructure, especially in areas of poverty that need access the most.

All of these issues spell a conflicted future for Africa’s megacities, what do you think African nations should do to tackle these impending problems?