Future Cities - Africa Green Building Summits 2024
  • May 5, 2021
  • futureci
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Just last year, a coalition of 15 national GBCs from across the continent developed the Africa Manifesto for Sustainable Cities & the Built Environment. The Manifesto envisions African cities as places where our unique culture and heritage blends perfectly with modern urbanism to deliver sustainable and thriving urban landscapes for ‘…every African, everywhere.’ As urbanization continues to reshape the continent, it is, however, essential that we set a clear destination, a lodestar to guide our course. So, we asked ourselves to envision the African city of 2050.

Green and Sustainable Cityscapes

Green and sustainable cityscapes define African cities in 2050. Buildings are the perfect blend of vernacular architecture  and modern design. Cities are net zero carbon, relying on clean, renewable energy sources. Urban fabrics are characterized by green and blue infrastructure – networks of natural and semi-natural green spaces (parks, urban forests) and water features (streams, lakes, ponds) offering recreational opportunities, fostering a sense of connection between people and the natural environment, supporting biodiversity, and attenuating climate change impacts.

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Sustainable Urbanism in Africa: Urban greenery will not only add a touch of nature to the landscape but also help reduce air pollution and the urban heat island effect. Photovoltaic solar panels seamlessly integrated into building facades will generate clean energy to meet the city’s needs.

Spatially Equitable Places

The African city of 2050 is a spatially just place. Urban planning is inclusive and participatory, and both wealthy and poor districts have equitable access to resources, opportunities, and benefits within the urban space. Spatial inequities in the distribution of resources, such as housing, infrastructure, education, healthcare, public services, and employment opportunities, no longer define urban geographies.

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Spatially Just Cities: The power of greenery to promote health and evoke feelings of wellbeing is a poignant reminder of human connectedness to nature. However, many young residents of less privileged districts in African cities spend entire childhoods without seeing, let alone playing, on a patch of grass. Image by agafapaperiapunta

Integrated and Connected Spaces

In 2050, African cities feature integrated and smart transportation systems, that have addressed the challenges of congestion and pollution. Smart traffic management systems optimize traffic flow and reduce emissions. Public transit options like light rail, bus rapid transit (BRT), and electric minibuses connect different neighborhoods and reduce the reliance on personal vehicles. Dedicated bicycle lanes and pedestrian-friendly streets mean that non-motorized transport is no longer an unpalatable option.

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Smart & Connected Urban Transport: A perfect blend of cutting-edge technology and eco-friendly transportation, with maglev trains connecting residents to the city’s various districts in mere minutes, where they seamlessly transfer to min-electric vehicles, e-scooters or bicycles to complete their journeys.

Adaptive & Resilient Places

Transformative urban resilience is embedded in the African city of the future. Proactive urban planning ensures that urban forms and systems are adaptive and resilient. Transformative changes to urban places and spaces, including infrastructure, land use, governance, and social structures, address underlying drivers of vulnerability, promote adaptive governance, and foster social and ecological connectivity. Cities do not just bounce back from shocks and stresses, but adapt and thrive, improving quality of life for all residents.

Smart Urban Spaces

Smart urbanism defines the African city of 2050. Local startups develop solutions tailored to the unique needs of the city and its residents. Technological innovation turbocharges the local economy, empowering local businesses, enhancing quality of life, and driving sustainable growth. City life is characterized by the embrace of digital connectivity, with all residents having access to the digital world and the opportunities it offers. A fusion of digital technologies and physical realms is the cornerstone of city infrastructure, transforming and simplifying everyday tasks like driving and shopping.

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African Smart Cities: The integration of digital technologies and the physical realm promises to transform the way we live and interact in cities of the future. Imagine walking down the street and receiving personalized information about nearby stores, events, or even historical landmarks – all projected onto your smart glasses or contact lenses.

This is just a snippet of our vision of Africa’s unique and vibrant urban future. We hope that it serves as an inspiration for policymakers, businesses, and citizens to work collectively towards the realization of a thriving and resilient urban future for every African, everywhere.

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