Emerging challenges facing intermediary cities arise at Africities conference

The major concern during the summit was population growth.

In Summary

•Kisii Governor James Ongwae who spoke on behalf of the CoG in Kenya noted told the African Governments that there was much needed to overcome or address the effects of the growing urban population.

•The major concern during the summit was population growth.     

Kisii Govenor James Ongwae addressing delegates at the Africities Conference in Kisumu on Tuesday May 16, 2022.

The emerging challenges facing intermediary cities in Africa took centre stage at beginning of the 9th Edition of Africities Conference in Kisumu with delegates calling for immediate interventions.

The major concern during the summit was the growing population growth in the African urban centres.                                                                        

Kisii Governor James Ongwae who spoke on behalf of the Council of Governors in Kenya told the African Governments much is needed to address the effects of the growing urban population.

The theme of the ninth Africities Summit is the contribution of African intermediary cities to the implementation of Agenda 2030 the United Nations and AU Agenda 2063.

Ongwae said the 47 Counties in Kenya, remain on the path to creating safe, sustainable growth within Kenya.

The governors suggested a number of solutions to addressing the urban agenda in the cities to make them more safe, resilient and secure.

These included the need for the delegates to explore non-financial options for cities and urban areas in the wake of the dwindling resources and donor funds.

He said there was also a need to formulate urban policies, laws, strategies and action plans aimed at building the resilience of cities and urban areas.

“There is need to strengthen the capacity of leadership of cities and urban areas at the same time address increasing urban poverty and inequality in line of SDG goal of living no one behind”.

Ongwae added that there was also a need for cities to adopt technologies that are climate-smart and strengthen data management.

More suggestions entailed the need to review and develop an African urban blueprint and guide Infrastructural development in cities and urban areas.

Kisumu Governor Prof Anyang Nyong’o also pronounced himself on the urban growth challenges and asked African states to rethink workable solutions.

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa adressing delegates at the Africities Conference in Kisumu on Tuesday May 16, 2022.

Nyong’o said this is the reason that on the 50th anniversary of African leadership, the heads of states came up with the AU Agenda 2063 of Africa We Want.

“We meet here today to review the extent to which we have implemented them and what is yet to be done. In Kenya, we approved a new constitution in 2010 introducing devolution under the President of Uhuru," he said.

"Today devolution projects are in place with participation and involvement in decision making by the people."

He said intermediary cities like Kisumu has plenty of evidence already available regarding dividends of devolution.

“Intermediary cities have the potential to address inequalities among groups that have risen from central power structures that disproportionately fund resources to the few urban areas."

He also claimed that much focus ought to be paid to developing distinct industrial or commercial hubs in Africa and administrative centres, separately.

Already, he gave examples of countries such as South Africa that had devoted key functions to Cape Town and Johannesburg as the administration centre.

The same applied to Tanzania which had moved its capital to Dodoma and left Dar salaam as the commercial and industrial hub as the cities realize rapid growth.

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa noted that the discussions and interactions during this Summit should endeavour to explore innovative possibilities of reducing vulnerabilities and increasing the resilience of our increasingly urban populations.

He said It is imperative that they work towards economically empowering our communities through transformative and sustainable socio-economic programmes. 

"We should therefore consider all the opportunities available to improve our environment and natural resource management; enhance market access: trade and financial services."

Wamalwa noted that intermediary cities like Kisumu will be the epicentre of the continent’s future urbanisation and it is only apt that this city is the stage to discuss future urbanisation challenges for Africa.

He said Kisumu also remains one of the port cities poised to play an important role in realising the full benefits of a blue economy.

And as a  historical city associated with trade, he added it is centrally placed to play a major role in trade and commerce within the larger Eastern Africa region. 

“The last few years have also seen Kisumu work towards unlocking its potential as a business tourism destination for the future. With the rapid development of its tourism and hospitality infrastructure and more than  18 hotels of 3-star rating and an expanded bed capacity, the city is well prepared to host the growing number of visitors expected in years to come."

The Summit, he said, provides Kenya with a golden opportunity to showcase to the world what the country has to offer and comes at a time when Kenya has started reaping the benefits of devolution.

Un Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed who addressed the delegates virtually said the rapid trend of urbanization across the African continent offers new opportunities to accelerate economic and social transformations.

Mohammed said the summit is being held at a time when the world is facing challenges marked by multiple crises.

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