With a population of one billion and an economy likely to double
in size from US$2 trillion to US$4 trillion before 2025, Africa has
quickly emerged as the next economic driver for the global
While the success of Africa's rise is well-founded, a far
more granular approach to grasping the nuances and realising the
opportunities is essential. This goes beyond country-by-country
assessments. A deeper assessment of this economic energy and growth
reveals that it will be largely driven by Africa's emerging
cities. The nature of the business environment in Africa will
increasingly demand a far more city-oriented investment
De Buys Scott, KPMG Head of Global Infrastructure and Projects
Group in Africa, notes that we cannot afford to ignore cities.
"Close to three quarters of African people will be living in
African cities by 2050. African cities and megacities already have
a larger population than all of Europe".
While boosting strategic infrastructure is more than just the
role of cities, the KPMG report 'The
Role of Cities in Africa's Rise', makes clear the
importance of the rise of the urban economy in Africa.
"There's greater growth of urbanisation in Africa than
anywhere else in the world. Over 50 percent of the African
population is already urbanised, and expected to grow to
approximately 70 percent in the foreseeable future.
Historically, city infrastructure has been viewed in silos
– with cities looking at projects on a one to one basis where
they would just build a hospital or a school or a road or power
station. With so much pressure on the cities, as a result of this
massive urbanisation, it is critical to assess their infrastructure
needs from a much broader perspective. Cities have to consolidate
all the infrastructure needs and must develop the measurement tools
to assist them in prioritising their capital allocation that will
lead to long-term sustainable cities," adds Scott.
play a very significant role in attracting investment". It
is though, not just about the investment, it is about the capacity
of cities to manage this investment. Sound financial and urban
planning expertise is critical to appeasing the financial community
that their investments are being well managed. Cities are quickly
becoming the economic engines of entire national economies and they
need the tools to deliver a product that can withstand the test of
While cities bring with them great economic growth prospects and
coordinated development, they are not void of challenges. The role
of urbanisation as the most significant driver of the economies of
our countries cannot be denied, but it can also play one of the
most divisive roles in our society.
David O'Brien, Global Lead of KPMG's Cities Centre of
Excellence warns that "there is a tenuous balance between
opportunity and despair when it comes to the implications of
"We have to be very careful to balance the needs of all of
the residents of our megacities. We must not marginalise whole
segments of our society for the sake of economic gain. If we do, we
run the real risk that the cost of dealing with our marginalised
population will, in the end, consume all of the benefits of
urbanisation. Cities should never be about size – they should
be about quality of life," says O'Brien.
The report notes that only three African cities – Lagos,
Cairo and Kinshasa – fall within the true definition of
'megacities', a category of cities with populations of 10
million or more. But this is likely to change in the near future,
with at least six other cities expected
to join the megacity class in the next 20-30 years. O'Brien
believes that it is important "to step back now and assess how
we want these cities to develop in order to use their potential to
drive the economic and social expectations of Africa". He also
believes that, in this process, the role of the medium-sized city
versus the megacity should be properly unpacked and understood.
Kobus Fourie, Head of the South African Cities Centre of
Excellence, concludes: "One should take into account the
diversity and maturity of the different African cities. Some of
them are emerging/new cities, some of them are existing
fast-growing cities and, very importantly, some of them are
becoming mature cities – all with related but different
urbanisation pressures. There is no one easy solution for all
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).