Posted : June 24, 2019
THEME:“Collective responsibility for sustainable African capital cities”
TOPIC: The power of cities across our continent
Your Worships the Mayors of African capital cities
Leaders from other Southern African municipalities
Members of Civil Society, research institutions and related policy advisors
Investors and Developers
Member of the Media
Thank you once again for the honour to address this important gathering. Today, I address you in a different capacity from the last time we met.
I have been asked to consider “the power of cities across our continent” and the future of African cities, in my capacity as the minister responsible for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which portfolio includes work with all the spheres of governance and partnerships. Prior to addressing the topic at hand I wish to firstly dispel the notion that African civilisation and cities came on a boat with the colonisers.
I do so in the sincere belief that our ancient cities hold answers for future African cities, in design and content.
OUR HISTORY HAS A RICH HERITAGE OF AFRICAN CITIES
Our continent is rich with monuments of African cities and civilisations such as the Punt Kingdom, of around 2 500 BC which was the “Land of the Gods” rich in mercantile, gold and exotic animals.
With its towering pyramid designs the Nubian Kingdom of Kush, in Sudan, stood as an African powerhouse.
There is also the seaside commercial hub of Carhage in Tunisia which was founded around the 8thcentury BC. At its peak, this capital city boasted nearly half a million inhabitants and included a protected harbour outfitted with docking bays for about 220 ships.
There are the spectacular stone obelisks of the Kingdom of Aksum of the 2ndcentury A.D, which was a trading juggernaut with its own written script known as Ge’ez. The gold and ivory made the city of Axum a vital link between ancient Europe and the Far East, long before globilisation made it into the common lexicon.
Our cities also had capable and visionary leaders such as Malian Sundiata Keita who united his subjects into a new state and built the magnificent trading and university cities of Djenné and Timbuktu. Today if you are fortunate enough to make the journey to Timbuktu’s Sankore University, you will see the library which houses some of the estimated 700 000 manuscripts.
Our ancient cities also had design innovation and lasting utility, such as the stacked granite boulders, stone towers and defensive walls of the 15thCentury Great Zimbabwe. The city is an imposing collection of stacked boulders, stone towers and defensive walls assembled from cut granite blocks. The Kingdom spanned the modern day Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, with its capital in what is today Masvingo. It was particularly rich in cattle and precious metals, and stood astride a trade route that connected the region’s gold fields with ports on the Indian Ocean coast. Though little is known about its history, the remains of artefacts such as Chinese pottery, Arabian glass and European textiles indicate that Great Zimbabwe was once a well-connected mercantile centre.
Ancient African cities also have rich astronomical heritages. The Dogon people of Mali have generational knowledge of the star Sirius A and B which appears only once in 50 years.
Our history and cities also speak of an Africa that valued the matriarchal family, where women were the economic backbone of the continent in which the values of peace, justice and social well-being were promoted.
In many communities and kingdoms, women spearheaded development and led their countries with great vision. For instance, in Angola in the 17thcentury, the powerful Queen Nzinga kept the marauding Portuguese at bay by creating alliances with other kingdoms.
Women also played an important role in economic and governance structures in African cities, towns and villages. For instance in Kenya, Kikuyu women occupied pride of place for their role in land cultivation, thus ensuring food security.
In Ghana, the Queen Mother of the Akan people, protected the interests of the people by ensuring that the tax and revenue collected was used to further the education of the children.
In Nigeria, within the Igbo society, women spearheaded the development of a complex trade and market system. They were highly respected for their business skills.
There are few narratives that more evocatively captures Africa’s past, as the extract from Ben Okri’s Infinite Riches:
It was indeed a splendid road. It had been built by the natives, supervised by the Governor-General. He dreamt that on this beautiful road all Africa’s wealth, its gold and diamonds and diverse mineral resources, its food, its energies, its labours, its intelligence would be transported to his land, to enrich the lives of his people across the green ocean.Deep in his happy sleep the Governor-General dreamt of taking the Golden Stool of the Ashante king, the thinking masks of Bamako, the storytelling rocks of Zimbabwe, the symphonic Victoria Falls, the shapely tusks of Luo elephants, the slumbering trees of immemorial forests, the languorous river Niger, the enduring pyramids of the Nile, all the deltas rich with oil, the mountains rifted with metals apocalyptic, the mines shimmering with gold, the ancestral hills of Kilimanjaro, the lexicon of African rituals, the uncharted hinterland of Africa’s unconquerable spirits. He dreamt of taking Africa’s timber-like men, their pomegranate women, their fertile sculptures, their plaintive songs, their spirit-worlds, their forest animals, their sorceries, their myths and their strong dances. He dreamt that the natives would transport all these resources tangible and intangible, on their heads, or on litters, walking on the great road, in an orderly single file, across the Atlantic Ocean, for three thousand miles. He dreamt of having all these riches transported to his land Some of them would be locked up in air-conditioned basements, for the benefit of Africa, because Africans did not know how to make the best use of them, and because his people could protect them better. He dreamt of having them in the basement of a great museum, to be studied, and to aid, in some obscure way, the progress of the human race. He dreamt of the great road on which all the fruits and riches of African lives would be directed towards sweetening the sleep of his good land. He did not dream of the hunger he would leave behind.
The plunder of Africa by outside powers began with the rise of capitalism and happened in two phases. In the first phase, which lasted 400 years, slave traders carried away the most precious of our resources, the sons and daughters of Africa. An estimated 12 million Africans were shipped as slaves, mostly to plantations in the Caribbean and the Americas.
The enormous wealth they produced provided the capital needed to industrialize Europe and to build empires. It was the sweat and toil of these forbearers who built the large cities and towns such as New York, London, and Paris, which now act as the world’s biggest and greatest capital cities.
In the second phase, the imperial powers established colonies over almost the whole of Africa. This process was completed after they divided up Africa between them at the Berlin Conference of 1884. Their aim was to use the super-exploitation of African labour to extract raw materials, ship them to Europe, and turn them into products to be sold at a huge profit, including selling them back to Africans. Thus their design was un African, unwelcoming to the natives, and had no design desire to ensure that future Africans are integrated. I recall when I grew up and we would visit the bustling town of Pietermaritzburg, the English sign on the lamp post tied dustbins would read “Keep Your City Clean”. The Zulu version was Lahla La. Simply put “throw here”. The city, like all colonial cities, was not for Africans!!!
Colonialism and imperialism not only led to carving up of the continent amongst certain European countries but it also meant Africans, through violent oppression and divide and rule tactics were denied freedom, self-determination and access to education. Our culture and original cities were despised and destroyed. For instance the Great City of Zimbabwe was simply known as the “the ruins”. Kwa Dukuza, the capital city deliberately built by king Shaka was given the oppressive name of Stanger and his contribution to the construct of the city were virtually wiped out.
Our languages were suppressed, our ethics and values were replaced by European values, languages and religion. We were thus denied our identity.
However our forebears were not going to go down without putting up a fight, the great African armies in Isandlwana in South Africa and Adwa in Ethiopia, defeated the mighty armies of the colonisers. There were also heroic struggles of the peoples of the continent, which saw progressive decolonialisation of the African countries and defeat of Apartheid in South Africa and Ian Smith in Zimbabwe.
It is a recognition of this simultaneously glorious and dark past that led to our leaders attempting to ensure Africa’s institutions were robust and adequately equipped to help create the conditions for an African Renaissance, an Africa destiny determined by Africans.
In this regard, the first half of the 20th century, until the end of the Second World War in 1945, was marked by the rise of new form of African Nationalism and new forms of resistance.
This was aptly surmised by Pixley ka Isaka Seme in 1906, as a student at Columbia University in the United States:
“The African already recognises his anomalous position and desires a change. The brighter day is rising upon Africa. Already I seem to see her chains dissolved, her desert plains red with harvest, her Abyssinia and her Zululand the seats of science and religion, reflecting the glory of the rising sun from the spires of their churches and universities.”
Indeed, although it would take decades, the sun did rise in what we now know as the first wave, when in the 1950’s and 1960’s starting with Ghana more than 19 new states were born and 19 new magnificent African flags raised to salute independence.
Even as these states found expression, they largely replicated colonial planning, towns and cities. In that first wave urbanisation became a norm as the village and rural areas emptied into the cities. Bustling in the seams the cities could not cope with the large inflow of villagers who now began to enjoy free movement owing to the abandonment of influx control laws and policies of the erstwhile colonial masters. The cities, could simply not cope with these large numbers which were not in the plans of the colonial planners. In the seventies, shanty towns dotted our capitals, sewers emptied themselves into the streets, and our cities grew haphazardly paying no attention to any spatial plan whatsoever.
During that second and third wave, military might and macro-economic development received the most of attention as Africans sought African solutions for African problems, very much as Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah once said:
“It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world.”
Noting the paradox of a rich Africa but poor Africans we began our path towards regional collaboration and sustainable development. However once again we looked everywhere for solutions and neglected our design history and culture. We also focused our resources on retrofitting colonial living spaces with really only one new capital city being built in Abuja Nigeria in 1976.
This gathering is therefore an opportunity to learn from our past and provide African solutions for African cities and by Africans themselves.
With the fastest growing urban population in the world, Africa’s cities are set to grow by nearly a billion people by 2050. In less than 20 years from now every second person in Africa is likely to live in a town or a city. This will total about 926 million people, or 438 million more than today; the equivalent of adding the current combined populations of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt and Tanzania.
We also know that by 2030, six of the world’s 41 megacities will be in Africa. Johannesburg, Luanda and Dar es Salaam will join the existing trio of Cairo, Lagos and Kinshasa as Africa’s megacities that will absorb a significant share of their national populations. They are key drivers of their countries’ economic performance and connect Africa to the global economy.
Like most of Africa and other developing countries, South Africa is experiencing continuing urbanisation. Currently, 63% of the country’s population already live in urban areas. The United Nations (UN) estimates 71.3% of the South African population will live in urban areas by 2030, reaching nearly 80% by 2050.
However, the designs of these cities, continues to maintain the Eurocentric design ethos, with little attention to our rich design and planning heritage. Very little about these capitals and cities spell African city. The native remains unwelcome, and instead of influx control laws price and income have become the means by which the majority are excluded and the middle and upper class have merely replaced the colonial master, and our people continue to be confined in far off and unproductive places.
With this exclusion, comes an unprecedented pace and scale of growth which is creating new demands for infrastructure and services. This rapid urbanization is accompanied by unique negative implications, which include rising levels of urban poverty, declining quality of infrastructure due to over usage and under investment. The rising levels of informality also lead to a two-tier economy. Business and industry tend to relocate to “Safe Spaces”, which leads to the decay of urban centres and the entrenchment of inequality and divided social spaces
It is clear therefore that in our deliberations over the next few days, one of the questions we must answer is how we are going to complement urbanisation with rural development, whilst also making our cities more inclusive, safer, resilient and sustainable as stipulated in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is no easy task.
The 900 million working-age people that will be added to Africa’s cities by 2050 will require that we also pay attention to the nature employment in new work areas, but also in key sectors such as agriculture. These cities will need to feed themselves and we must explore vertical farming in the cities as well as hydroponic farming owing to the climate change challenges currently confronting our continent. With one in four people still undernourished in our continent we are challenged by the impacts of climate change to improve food security and hunger.
As we have progressed and grown our cities, so have greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index seven of the ten countries most at risk from climate change are in Africa, this due to our growing appetite for energy. We should all be concerned that most cities on Earth at risk of flooding from rising sea levels and powerful storms. The time to act
It is no exaggeration to say, with droughts, flooding and melting of glaciers, that climate change is the greatest challenge facing this generation. The financial effects of climate change can be just as devastating as the physical ones. Unexpected expenditures from storms, flooding, snow removal and drought can lead to major disruptions in business operations and city budgets.
At the moment, urbanization in many African countries is creating more challenges than opportunities. The ability to harness and benefit from the region-wide demographic shift toward cities will help determine whether African countries succeed in addressing a range of social, environmental and conflict -related crises.
No African government, therefore, can afford to ignore the ongoing urban transition that is taking place across the continent. The UN has advised African governments to take ‘early action to position themselves for predominately urban populations’.
In taking this early action, we must return to our history and draw lessons from those great ancient African cities, we have spoken of. Our cities, particularly our capital cities must be very African and welcoming. Capital cities are usually the port of entry for visitors and thus they have the responsibility to shape the opinions of visitors about the rest of the country. They are also usually the home of the diplomatic community and thus can impact on the social and trade relations between our nations.
We must therefore critically asses how our cities are designed to reflect our inherent values of the Ubuntu ethos which dictates that Umuntu ngu muntu nga bantu— I am because we are. Everything that we do in design, including the naming conventions we adopt, must reflect a celebration of our African heritage, our heroes and heroines as well as nations..
In a world looking for more inclusive and sustainable urban growth models, ‘resource-efficient urbanism’ is becoming the new basis for competitiveness in the world. Increasingly, cities around the world are ‘competing’ to establish who will take the lead in translating this new urban paradigm into practical actions. It is, therefore, important that we put in place mechanisms to respond to this urbanisation trend in an African way so that we assist in reaping the benefits of urbanisation, while minimising the impacts unmanaged urbanisation.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is therefore critical that we implement just and development orientated National Urban Policies (NUPs) as anticipated by Habitat III in 2016. That framework calls upon us to pay particular attention to strengthening our local governments. NUPs can bring greater coherence and legitimacy to authorities and agents in cities and—critically—recalibrate the balance of power shared by different levels of government, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), civil society and the private sector.
To date, at least 18 African countries have NUPs or policies that resemble NUPs. South Africa has adopted the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), as our national urban policy, influenced and informed by Agenda 2063 and its strategic goals, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN Assembly in 2015. Goal 11: ‘Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ is directly linked to sustainable urbanisation.
The principles and objectives of the IUDF buttress this year’s theme: “Collective responsibility for sustainable African Capital Cities” through the whole of society approach. Indeed, collective leadership and what we call Ubuntu – I am because we are- is a typical African value and a way of doing things.
It is true that Africa’s time is now, but we have to seize the moment in order to realise this growth of the continent, our growth has to be accompanied by home grown solutions and infrastructure investments which must transform and diversify our economies. Through infrastructure support we can catapult the AfricaContinental Free Trade Area so that we increase real income gain by 37Billion Dollars. Integration should be a means not an end. We need to make sure that it is people-driven and inclusive.
As we look to the future and implement Agenda 2063: The Africa We Wantwe must emphasize the role that our capitals can play in making us reach our socio-economic growth trajectory.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our cities and towns have the power to drive economic growth and overall transformation of territories including both rural and urban areas. Therefore we must envision cities that will help us to attract not only investment, but if we must build cities that can stem the tide of the so called “Brain Drain”, where the talent would want to live, work and raise children.
Cities and towns function as catalysts, drive innovation, consumption and investment worldwide as they contribute about 80% of the global GDP.
Cities therefore are at the centre of our countries’ sustainable development as they are responsible for the bulk of production and consumption, and are the primary engines of economic growth and development.
The power of cities in creating sustainable, resilient and inclusive living spaces lies in collaboration. Taking collective responsibility for sustainable African capital cities also requires revolutionary thinking around financing and governance.
By getting urban development right, cities can create jobs and offer better livelihoods; increase economic growth; improve social inclusion; promote the decoupling of living standards and economic growth from environmental resource use; protect local and regional ecosystems; reduce both urban and rural poverty.
To conclude I want to borrow Sarah Nandudu’s, (Vice Chairperson of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda and Deputy Chair of the Board of Slum Dwellers International (SDI)) words and call upon each and everyone of you to join hands in tackling urbanisation in a more sustainable way.
“Africa’s future is urban – but its towns and cities will only thrive if they deliver climate-resilient housing, infrastructure, services and jobs for everyone. We have a short window of opportunity to put in place strategic plans that can lift millions of people out of poverty and reduce their vulnerability to climate risk.”
The power to do this lies in the cities! Those cities whose governments already have National Urban Policies in place, let us enhance implementation by sharing experiences and lessons learnt across the continent, and those that do not have urban policies in place, must work with their central governments in developing such.
In our State of the Nation Address last week the President has provoked our thoughts as we deal with urbanisation by asking the question:
“has the time not arrive to be bold and do what we believe is impossible, has the time not arrive to build a new smart city founded on the technologies of 4IR”
Maybe this is the perfect room to answer these questions. As people entrusted with planning and creating sustainable cities, let us be bold, let’s make use of technologies brought by the fourth industrial revolution and build smart cities in our countries. We have the opportunity as Africans to build new cities that reflect both our rich heritage, and the democratic and gender balanced character of the Africa we want. Our people must have a strong sense of ownership of their cities, so that the cities grow with them as owners of the city.
Already, we have been inspired by cities such as Ebène in Mauritius which is a self-contained smart city which is host to the internet registry platform for the whole continent. We have been inspired by Kigali which is one of the cleanest and most connected city in the world. We have looked in awe as plans are set afoot to realise Hope City in Ghana. HOPE stands for Home, Office, People and Environment. We have looked in admiration as Abuja grows its Centenary City, to carry with it the hope of Africans.
We will build a truly African smart and connected city, to realise the South Africa and Africa We Want.
Africa has the best opportunity to take advantage of the demographic dividend by building smart cities in order to tap into the skills and knowledge of its citizens
I thank you!
UN-Habitat. 2010. The State of African Cities 2010. Nairobi, Kenya: UN-Habitat, p. 1.
Posted : November 6, 2018
6 NOVEMBER 2018 – CAPE TOWN
Members of MISTRA Urban Futures Board
Members of the Urban Futures platform from India, Argentina, Sweden, UK and Kenya
Representatives from Academic and Research Institutions
Representatives from NGOs
Public Sector officials
Posted : October 30, 2018
30 October 2018
The Premier of Gauteng Province, Mr David Makhura
The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance Mr Andries Nel
President of Salga and United Cities and Local Governments (UGLC), Cllr Parks Tau
CEO of Cities Network, Mr Sithole Mbanga
Representatives from the South African Council of Planners
Academics and Research
Captains of Business and Industry
Ladies and gentlemen,
Posted : August 27, 2018
At a Gala Dinner for Delegates to the Metropolis Annual Meeting: “Inclusive Metropolitan Cities and City-Regions”
held at Caesar’s Palace, Ekurhuleni
on 27 August 2018
Sanibonani, Dumelang, Molweni, Ndi madekwana, Goeie naand, Ri perile, Thobela, Lotjhani, Boa noite, Bon soir, As-salāmu ʿalaykum, Namaste.
Good evening and welcome to South Africa, Ningizimu Afrika, Afrika Tshipembe, Mzansi Afrika, Suid-Afrika, Afrika Borwa, Afrika Dzonga, Africa do Sul, Afrique du Sud. (more…)
Posted : July 5, 2018
05 July 2018 – Boksburg
Representatives from provincial Cogtas,
Heads of Planning and Engineering Services,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Posted : May 23, 2018
I am indeed honoured to be with you all today for this valuable and wide-ranging discussion prepared for us by the NCOP and SALGA.
I have been asked to talk to you about my views on ‘Making Local Government Sustainable’, and indeed, this is perhaps one of our most critical objectives in respect to the creation of a capable and developmental state. If we do not have a strong and sustainable local sphere of government, our national strategic objectives to overcome poverty, inequality and unemployment, and the transformation of society as articulated in the National Development Plan, will not be realised.
These partners have been supporting the IUDF: