Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya — one of the biggest in Africa. (Photo: IRIN)
Naledi Modisaatsone is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Urban Institute
The concept of “smart cities” has become synonymous with developed countries. When people talk about smart cities they often mean high-tech urban innovators in North America, Western Europe or East Asia. Africa is not featured on the list.
This situation, however, has been changing following the recognition that smart city thinking is not necessarily about being high tech, but rather about cities that efficiently drive sustainable economic growth, competitiveness, prosperity and a better life for their citizens.
A report by Deloitte defines a smart city as “when investments in human and social capital, traditional (transport) and modern information and communications technology ICT infrastructure fuel sustainable economic development and a high quality of life, with a wise management of natural resources”. In that way Africa is right at the heart of the conversation.
The UN Habitat Global Activities Report 2013 states that in 2009, Africa’s total population for the first time exceeded one billion of which 395 million (or almost 40 per cent) lived in urban areas. Around 2027, Africa’s demographic growth will start to slow down and it will take 24 years to add the next 500 million, reaching the two billion mark around 2050, of which about 60 per cent will be living in cities. Africa should prepare for a total population increase of about 60 per cent between 2010 and 2050, with the urban population tripling to 1.23 billion during this period.
These demographic shifts will present policy makers in Africa with unprecedented challenges in handling of urbanization given that infrastructure networks and public services are already overwhelmed. African cities wishing to uplift their populations into the 21st century are going to have to start focusing today on what the city of tomorrow will look like.
How will Africa position its cities as drivers of sustainable growth using technology?
Mahmoud Bader is CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED). This post also appeared on The Atlantic Council blog.
As Libya faces numerous challenges with the existence of federalists and militia groups, the question of decentralization grows in urgency. Libyans need to bolster local government in an effort to leave their past behind and meet their everyday needs, but lack the adequate legal and constitutional framework to ensure better governance. As Libya struggles to fill the remaining seats in the Constitutional Committee, it must also consider the language it plans to adopt to protect the decentralization process.
The move towards local governance emerged during the 2011 revolution when local councils arose to handle city affairs, an arrangement that continues today. Libyans welcomed the change. With the former regime centralized in Tripoli, citizens traveled inordinate distances from all over the country to complete tasks that they could have handled in their own cities, including basic bureaucratic services like stamps and signatures that could easily have been provided in other cities.
On January 24 at the U.S. Department of State, CIPE, Atlas Corps, and the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan co-hosted a welcome event for the new class of Atlas Corps Fellows including five participants of the CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellowship.
As mentioned in a previous post, this year’s Think Tank LINKS fellows represent various regions around the world and either come from leading think tanks back in their home countries or will be serving at top-tier organizations in Washington, DC.
CIPE and Atlas Corps are welcoming our second class of the Think Tank LINKS Fellows! Five young researchers from around the world have come together in Washington, DC to participate in a six month leadership development program. The fellows will shadow researchers and experts at leading Washington, DC-based think tanks to learn best practices of successful U.S. think tanks while conducting research on issues of democratic or economic reform.
We’re excited to introduce our newest class of Think Tank LINKS Fellows to everyone!
What will you be doing next Tuesday?
CIPE is partnering with #GivingTuesday to celebrate a day of philanthropy on December 3.
After enjoying some delicious food on Thanksgiving, and shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, why not join a global movement to give back to the community?
On Tuesday December 3rd, join the movement by supporting CIPE’s efforts to develop young leaders from around the world. Through our ChamberL.I.N.K.S. program and the Think Tank LINKS Fellowship, CIPE empowers youth to become active leaders in civil society and work toward meaningful change in their communities.
Watch videos for both programs and learn more about how to support here: http://www.cipe.org/givingtuesday/
Your donation (whether that’s $20 or $100) will help make a difference! By investing, you are developing young people’s skills to become future champions of change!
As the nation’s capital celebrated the second inauguration of President Obama this past weekend, CIPE and Atlas Corps also had our own celebration: welcoming the first class of Think Tank LINKS Fellows.
From now until early July, three young researchers will participate in the CIPE-Atlas Corps sponsored Think Tank LINKS Fellowship. A leadership development program, the three fellows will shadow researches and experts at leading Washington, DC-based think tanks to learn about how successful think tanks operate in the U.S. while conducting research in issues of democratic or economic reforms.
We are excited to introduce our first group of Think Tank LINKS Fellows to everyone!