Africa’s urbanization – as global challenges for the continent’s development, by Thomas Wegener, CEO GrowExpress Ltd, Lagos, Nigeria.
Africa is the second largest continent in size and population. Its identity is shaped by the protracted struggle against Western colonial dominance and exploitation. In Nigeria alone, on the Gulf of Africa, it shows significant disparities. Some areas are economically strong, like South Africa or the oil state of Nigeria, while others are destitute, the states around the deserts. Developments are taking place at different rates and at different speeds. One major trend is the urbanization of societies, uneven, diverse and differentiated between cities, countries, regions and the continent. In December 2020, researcher Martin Dirr pointed out in a statement, „Africa’s urban population will double in the next 30 years. Already, nearly half a billion people live in Africa’s cities, and by 2050, the urban population could grow to more than 1 billion people. More than half of Africa’s urban population lives in small and medium-sized cities with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants*; these cities are experiencing the fastest growth. By 2014, Cairo, Kinshasa, and Lagos were the only megacities (>10 million inhabitants) in Africa. By 2040, there are expected to be 5 more: Johannesburg, Luanda, Dar Es Salam, Nairobi, and Abidjan. In parallel, the infrastructure and building stock, as well as the built-up area in Africa’s cities, is expected to triple by 2050.“
Causes of urbanization in Africa
Drivers of urbanization vary and include conflict, macroeconomic policies and processes, and spatial orientation of development. In part, these include policy support for too much export-oriented commercial agriculture that displaces smallholder structures. Another is climate change-induced displacement of rural societies engaged in subsistence and traditional agriculture. Western lifestyles are displacing village structures here as well; African energy infrastructure favors cities. As part of the decolonization of the African continent, a curious Western disinterest in Africa has emerged.
The right to an improved standard of living through urbanization.
Urbanization holds the potential for realizing the right to continuous improvement in living conditions. Various societies on the African continent have responded Urbanization in innovative and resource-efficient ways. Population growth is driving people into cities. In addition, there are strong differentiations within the cities. In some cases, there are islands with the best infrastructure surrounded by lively but unregulated settlement areas in the cities.
Urbanization inevitably involves some degree of cultural assimilation, income differentiation and economic development.
Strengthening agricultural structures and preventing rural exodus
The GrowExpress company farms an 800-hectare estate about 200 km north of the megacity of Lagos in Nigeria – Africa’s second largest city. The highway there, which will be completed in 2020, will also pass through the fertile plains of the states of OGUN and OYO. The farm is scientifically accompanied and brings work and respect back to the area. The GrowExpress farm concept is not to break up the local structures, but to respect them. This means that the previous small-scale, human-powered field cultivation is maintained in a supportive manner. The population can receive additional support and knowledge transfer, because it is not the hard work that is lacking, but rather the know-how. This is enriched in groups on sample fields with a lot of practical detailed knowledge. What is learned is in turn passed on and implemented in the village structures. According to studies, each farmer who receives further training is a 9-12-fold multiplier. In particular, irrigation, multi-field farming, fertilizers and the use of modern seeds have not yet become established in the small-scale farming of the individual families. On the one hand, this has advantages because the harvest is 100 percent organic. On the other hand, only ~1 ton per hectare is harvested compared to 6-10 tons on mechanized land areas of the same size. The contact persons in the farming business are often the women, who hold the families together in the internal structure and provide family cohesion despite male domination on the streets. The land used for farming for the GrowExpress farm project is free, meaning it was not previously in the hands of companies or individuals who are now being displaced. After the fine-mesh soil analysis and and the clearing of bush land that is not ecologically valuable, but with the consideration of the preservation of the existing economic trees, crop rotations are selected and the mechanization of agriculture is carried out. This is done in close collaboration with the world-renowned and locally based Tropical Institute and the agriculture-focused University of Ibadan. The responsible persons of the Nigerian state support the farm project and fixed purchase contracts have been concluded, so that the economic dimension of agriculture is secured in the long term.
Responsible according to the press law:
CEO GrowExpress Ltd.
Managing Director – GrowExpress Ltd.
Cocoa House, Dugbe
The GrowExpress Ltd. Office is in Nigeria, Cocoa House, Dugbe, 200263 Ibadan. The Cocoa House, completed in 1965 at a height of 105 meters, was once the tallest building in Nigeria and the first skyscraper in West Africa. It is located in Dugbe, one of the main commercial parks in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. GrowExpress Ltd. cultivates an estate of 800 hectares about 200 km north of the megacity of Lagos in Nigeria. Further information at: https://growexpress.org