A global research commissioned by KPMG, in cooperation with the
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), found that 90 percent of
respondents are of the opinion that quality and availability of
infrastructure directly affects where they locate and expand their
Africa's growing urbanisation means that cities have to
continuously expand to accommodate the influx of people. With
infrastructure on the top of Africa's development agenda, city
leaders and planners need to give critical consideration in their
long-term urban planning to developing and maintaining sustainable
In its publication, '
Advisor to African Cities', which is part of its Cities
Series, KPMG has identified 10 global sustainability mega-forces
that urban planners must consider for the development of cities in
the next 20 years. Five of the most critical are population growth,
energy, water scarcity, ecosystem decline and food security.
David O'Brien, Global Head of KPMG's Cities Centre of
Excellence, says that the influx of people into the cities is good
from an economic point of view as it tends to aggregate people and
jobs together. "However," he says, "massive
urbanisation marginalises large segments of the population as
people end up in unplanned settlements where service delivery is
not always readily available."
Ever-growing cities will mean rising energy costs. Further,
water scarcity is set to become a reality as South Africa is
expected to hit a 234 million m3 water deficit by 2025. Because
cities already struggle to accommodate the existing population with
the current infrastructure, further strain is placed on limited
resources as the population grows. Energy and water provision are
largely driven by infrastructure availability. Accordingly, these
should be addressed as a priority to ensure that we build cities
that will be sustainable.
Another factor to consider is the decline of ecosystems. As
cities become overpopulated, all the conditions for a poor
ecosystem arise. With urbanisation comes a compromised
In order to provide sufficient infrastructure, cities need
access to funding. To borrow funds, cities need to have good
budgeting systems, clean audits, a good and stable government and
the ability to pay back the interest on the debt – and this
is not always in place with most municipalities.
O'Brien believes it is up to governments to devise ways to
allocate proper funding to the cities to the point where they can
have the resources available to provide a more efficient energy
system and deal with water scarcity problems.
He adds, "This can be achieved by either changing the
legislative structure to allow cities to have more access to
revenue or encouraging economic development in rural areas in order
to discourage urbanisation."
As urbanisation increases, food production no longer takes place
in the rural areas because farmers move to the cities for better
"The more you take rural land out of production, the less
land you have to make food, resulting in food scarcity across the
economy. The trick is to encourage the rural population to stay
rural as much as possible so that there is a good economic base for
agriculture and specifically food production. The agricultural
system should be supported through incentives to allow farming
operations in the rural areas to be sustainable and create jobs. In
this way, urbanisation can be slowed down and food production can
continue," says O'Brien.
The current South African census reports that 62 percent of the
country's population live in urban areas. It is estimated that,
by 2030, this will be approximately 70 percent.
Goddard Khitsane, Associate Director at KPMG's Government
Advisory Services, states that the Government's initiatives in
tackling capacity challenges affecting cities are a move in the
"We welcome the Government's initiative of seeking a
national approach in addressing rapid urbanisation through a
National Integrated Urban Development Framework. This will indeed
go a long way in assessing the capacity challenge that is critical
to delivering essential municipal services and towards the
development and maintenance of the country's
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