Africa's Urban Challenge

Last week our CEO, Kennedy Odede, was featured in Project Syndicate, a publication that "brings original, engaging, and thought-provoking commentaries by esteemed leaders and thinkers from around the world to readers everywhere." In his article, Kennedy addresses the challenge of urbanization in Africa and around the world.

The story of moving to the city to look for opportunities is one Kenendy can personally relate to: 

My mother, like her mother, her grandmother, and so on, was born into poverty in the rural village of Rarieda, Kenya. I, too, was born in the village, and lived there until it was struck by a brutal famine when I was two years old. With no food, money, or opportunities, my mother did what thousands of African villagers do every day: she moved us to the city in search of a better life. But, given the lack of jobs and housing in Nairobi, we ended up in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums.

Slums are the reality for much of the developing world -- and they will not just go away. Currently, 78% of all urban-dwellers in the developing world live in cities. That number will only grow.  By 2050, only 30% of the world's population will remain in rural areas. The others will live in urban settings, and the majority in slums. 

This presents us with the choice to view slums as an unsolvable problem, or as an opportunity.  

Urban slums worldwide will soon reach a tipping point, with young people rejecting the lives that they have been offered ... Cities are not just Africa’s future; they are its present. Unless collective action is taken now to transform cities like Nairobi into the drivers of economic development and sources of opportunity that they are supposed to be, they will become a tinderbox of perpetual inequality.

Read Kennedy's entire piece here, and let us know what you think in the comments below, on Facebook, or on Twitter