Sunday, May 9, 2021

Global Risks report warns Botswana on challenges posed by urbanisation

The World Economic Forum has warned of negative impact of rapid urbanisation in developing world especially Sub- Saharan economies including Botswana.

WUF said in its 10th edition of the Global Risks report that Africa and Asia ÔÇô both still comparatively less urbanised than other regions ÔÇô will be the fastest urbanising regions with the urban population projected to reach 56 percent in Africa and 64 percent in Asia by 2050 (currently at 40 percent and 48 percent, respectively).

It said that in Botswana, the urban population in 2050 as compared to 2010 will be larger, but less than double.

“If managed well, urbanisation can bring important benefits for development. Cities are an efficient way of organising people’s lives: they enable economies of scale and network effects, and reduce the need for transportation, thereby making economic activity more environmentally friendly.”

Equally, it can present challenges in the quality of a city’s infrastructure; its housing, electricity, roads, airports, public transport, drinking water, sanitation, waste management, flood defences, telecommunications, hospitals, schools and so forth ÔÇô largely determines its residents’ quality of life, social inclusion and economic opportunities.

“As cities in developing countries are expanding rapidly, it is likely that infrastructure will not be able to keep pace with their growth nor the increased expectations of their populations. Action to close the infrastructure gap is urgently needed and will strongly influence the potential of risks to have catastrophic cascading effects.”

Botswana is a typical example of unplanned urbanisation where many people have left agriculture in the rural areas to take up paid jobs, but pressures of housing and water remain a challenge.

The OECD estimates that telecommunications and water will cost approximately $71 trillion by 2030 and most of this investment will be needed in emerging economies.

The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa estimates that Africa will need to invest up to $93 billion annually until 2020 for both capital investment and maintenance; currently only $45 billion is financed.

“Consequently, cities are looking for public-private collaboration to involve the private sector in the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure,” WEF said.

“However, to promote successful public-private collaboration, corruption must be tackled, as it is a traditional problem in construction projects and dissuades investors”.

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