Africa’s urban population is booming. At 3,5% per year, the continent’s urban growth rate is the highest of the developing world over the last twenty years. Within the next 20 years, research suggests that every second person in Africa will live in a town or a city, bringing the urban population to around 926-million people.
Within the decade, it is also predicted that six of the world’s 41 megacities (cities with a population of over 10-million people), will be on African soil, including Cairo, Lagos and Kinshasa, soon to be joined by Johannesburg, Luanda and Dar es Salaam.
While urbanisation plays a fundamental role in economic and societal progress, it also presents a myriad of challenges for governments in the developing world by putting strain on already crumbling infrastructure and transportation networks.
Yet Tracy-Lee Behr, portfolio director of dmg events, believes that this rapid urban growth, coupled with a growing youthful consumer population, places Africa in a prime position to leapfrog the redundant-technologies of developed nations in favour of new, innovative digital solutions.
“Ironically, Africa’s lack of infrastructure and lethargic uptake of technology means our cities are well-placed to adopt sustainable, smart city technologies that will enable economic growth and a higher quality of life using IoT, technology and creative thinking.”
Not only is Africa ready for the move towards smart cities, but Behr says there are many public and private enterprises across the continent that are already creating significant value through technology in cities, by taking existing infrastructure and adapting it in order to leverage natural resources and provide tangible benefits to citizens at a municipal, provincial and national level.
One such example is South African National Road Agency (SANRAL), which aims to rebuild South African cities by democratising transport through technological applications to transport problems, or smart mobility.
Shining a spotlight on the success of the smart city concept from an African perspective is Kenya’s first world-class smart city, Konza Technopolis, whose construction has finally begun after 13 years of feasibility studies and planning. Another example is South Africa’s first post-apartheid city based on ‘best practice’ in urban sustainability, the Lanseria International Airport Mega City.
Technical innovations like this will be explored by strategic private and public smart city stakeholders at this year’s African Smart Cities Summit taking place from 8 June 2022, hosted by DMG Events under the theme of ‘Africa is Ready’.