There are over 50 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants in Africa. Angola has over 60% of its population living in urban areas. With this in mind, Angola will host the 2nd Africa Urban Infrastructure Investment Forum (AIIF) on the 19th and 20th January 2015. The event is spearheaded by the African Business magazine and IC Events, co-organised with the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-A) and supported by the UN-Habitat.
According to the UN, the populations of some cities in the continent will increase by up to 50% by 2030. This is both an opportunity and a challenge. What is certain is that planning is needed to turn these cities into economic powerhouses, and make them fit for the 21st century. As part of the conference, the ministry of planning and urbanism will organize site visits to the country’s “New Centralities” and field trips will be organised to the major urban and housing projects around the capital, Luanda. The capital is a great case study in post-conflict urban development and the Forum will discuss issues faced by African countries, mainly those who have suffered decades of conflict and civil war.
Over 350 guests are expected to attend the Forum, including heads of state, government officials, funding agencies, think-thanks, academics, urban planners, designers, developers, and potential investors will be brought together to participate in the discussions. There will be a strong representation of the private sector, especially construction, urban planning, infrastructure and funding related companies.
Speaking about hosting the Forum, José António M. da Conceição e Silva, the Angolan Minister of Urbanism and Housing said, “this is a great opportunity to debate fundamental questions about infrastructure development in the continent and also for Angola to showcase the efforts done for the creation of a solid base for sustained development and the raising of living standards of its citizens.”
One of the African experts in urbanization is the UCLG Africa Secretary General Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi. Of the Forum, he said, “The future of Africa, as it is in other parts of the world, is urban. A new paradigm of development gives a particular role to cities and local authorities as the transformation locus and agent of African societies. From now on, cities of Africa should take the lead in shaping the future of the continent.”
Today, 72% of urban dwellers in the continent live in slums and their living conditions are often worse than in rural areas. Angola is well ahead to address this issue. The economy of Africa’s second biggest oil producer grew by 5.1% in 2013 and is projected to reach 7.9% in 2014 and 8.8% in 2015 as major public infrastructure investment kicks in. It has strong business links, among other countries, with the US, China, Portugal and is keen to attract public and private sector investment and funding agencies.
Tomas Paquete, Events Director at IC Events, the events division of the pan-african publishing group IC Publications emphasized the importance of the Forum: “The forum will propose concrete steps to be taken to maximize the effectiveness of urban infrastructure development, from finance through design to implementation. These will be incorporated in the works of the 7th Edition of the Africities Summit from 01 to 05 December 2015, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The forum will also stress the importance of tapping into both African and international capital to finance infrastructure development, as well as seek to identify viable and innovative financing models to make infrastructure projects more attractive to investors. Cities are the bedrock of strong economies. London, New York, Los Angeles, Mexico city, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mumbai are all core to their nation’s economies and unless we have suitable cities our economic development will be held back.”