West Africa Insight Vol 6 No.3: Urbanization in West Africa
UN habita predicts that before 2050, the total urban population in Africa will grow from the current estimate of 400 million to in excess of 1.26 billion. By 2030 the urban population of West Africa will range from 46.2%(Guinea) to 63.1% (Ivory Coast); percentages which firmly place half of the region's population in currently, under served and overstretched cities. Olu Timehin Adegbeye argues that authorities must recognise that unique histories of specific cultural, political and social contexts determine the kind of urban solution that can work. Rather than forcibly remove residents they should focus more on improving their everyday realities by listening closely to them and building cities that function for all, not just for wealthy residents. That is the task that faces the newly elected mayor of Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr. In conversation with West Africa Insight she discusses her plans for addressing Sierra Leone's capital city's urban development challenges in a way that ensures the voice of residents are heard. Jane Lumumba seeks to unpick the intricacies of urban planning in Accra arguing that for a more coherent approach to succeed enhanced technical expertise will need to be complemented by a vision that is shared by as wide a spectrum of residents and stakeholders. Finally Taibat Lawanson assesses the government of Nigeria's efforts to provide much needed housing for its citizens. Recognizing that a number of legal and economic obstacles continue to exist , she urges the government to think about new ways that housing can be financed and developed so that it is affordable and acceptable to the majority of urban residents.