FOCUSING HOUSING AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR URBAN REGENERATION IN AFRICA
A Report of Plenary Session 3 of the First Annual African Research Network for Urbanization and Habitable Cities Conference
(Virtual, Thursday, 29th October, 2020)
in Commemoration of Urban October, 2020.
Presented by Professor T.G Nubi, Director, ARUA CoE Urbanization and Habitable Cities
The Director of the ARUA CoE Urbanization and Habitable Cities, Prof. Timothy Nubi presented on focusing housing as an opportunity for urban regeneration in Africa. He stated that the session was to commemorate Urban October, 2020. He noted that 55% of the world’s population lived in cities and towns and the number keeps growing. He explained that the United Nation’s Agenda for Sustainable Development Goal 11 “to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” puts sustainable urbanization at the center of the global agendas for development. He added that the adoption of the New Urban Agenda in 2016 has seen national and local governments embark on a transformative path towards making SDG 11 a reality, and that by engaging all stakeholders, cities can harness transformational change and ensure a better life for all in an urbanizing world.
He then discussed the state of housing infrastructure in Africa. He explained that every city should provide people both with better employment opportunities and a better quality of life than in rural areas. African cities generally provide neither, adding that owning a decent house is still an unattainable goal for many African households.
He highlighted the problem of slum proliferation in most African countries. He noted that slum dwellers in Africa are pawns in political games. He added that “there is a school of thought that believes that these slums should be kept for economic gains through the promotion of slum tourism.” He explained that there is a need to focus on massive urban regeneration in the next two decades, and that Africa cannot continue to retain slums for the purpose of tourism.
He explained that regeneration programs and policies are part of the drive to tackle a combination of local needs and priorities associated with poverty, deprivation and youth unemployment; low skill levels, uncompetitive industry; poor health and education, a high proportion of lone parents and homelessness; bad Housing, a rundown physical environment; loss of community values and social cohesion, high level of crime and drug misuse; urban renewal and redevelopment program.
He then highlighted some recommendations for redevelopment, they include recognizing priority groups for development and reallocation; protect and maintain the core residential land use in any redevelopment project; recognize and utilize the strong human capital asset of the community; recognize key vulnerabilities and implication on housing finance access. He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted housing inequities and put the global housing crisis back on the radar, with a spotlight on housing's role in public health.
Lastly, he discussed the partnership between ARUA and UKRI, which he said builds on the shared commitment to research addressing the Sustainable Development Goals, and to develop capacity for research in Africa. He stated that the network’s focus for the 2020/2021 grant year is on informality and inequality. He emphasized that the network should provide African research activities to enhance knowledge and understanding of African slum and housing delivery system, promote the adoption of locally-led solutions, and also to scale up the few success stories in Africa.