Joseph Inokotong, Abuja
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), have launched the Africa Cities Platform to help bridge the financing gap in urban infrastructure.
The IFC said the programme will focus on cities in South Africa, including metropolitan municipalities and intermediate cities, while also engaging with cities in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa including Dakar and Lagos.
According to the United Nations’ 2018 World Urbanisation report, 59 percent of Africa’s population will live in cities by 2050, thus straining current urban infrastructure systems. Building more productive, inclusive and sustainable cities is therefore critical for economic growth and poverty reduction.
According to the IFC, Africa Cities Platform will support municipalities and other related government entities to grow the pipeline of sustainable urban infrastructure projects in key areas such as urban mobility, energy, water, and waste management.
It aims to expand access to urban infrastructure and services by providing advisory services that lead to opportunities for the private sector to finance and deliver infrastructure projects. Ambassador-Designate of Switzerland to South Africa, Dr Nicolas Brühl, said that South Africa, and other countries in Africa, have a large, growing urban population that “depends on social and economic services located in cities. “With this figure increasing rapidly, there is more pressure on the public and private sectors alike to address the low levels of economic growth, to look at ways to create sustainable jobs, to improve on economic and social infrastructure delivery and to create safe environments for the most vulnerable.”