At The African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum Held At The CSIR International Convention Centre, Tshwane, on 31 May 2016

Posted on Posted in DCoG Deputy Minister Andries Nel

Address by Mr Andries Nel, MP, Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Responsible for Provincial and Local Government)

at the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum

held at the CSIR International Convention Centre, Tshwane,

on 31 May 2016

 

Sanibonani; Good morning; Dumelang; Goeie môre; Avuxeni; Ndi macheloni; Bom dia, sejam bemvindos a Africa do Sul; Bon jour, soyez les bienvenue a l’Afrique du Sud; Habari, Karibu; Salaam u aleikum.

 

We thank our Programme Director, Cllr Subesh Pillay, and our Host Mayor, the Mayor of Tshwane, Cllr Kgosientso Ramokgopa. We recognise his neighbor the Mayor of Johannesburg, Mayor Parks Tau, who is also the chairperson of the South African Cities Network.  The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador Bene M’Phoko – who is indeed a corps and not a corpse – it is good do see you again since my retreat from the diplomatic circuit.  Mr Hastings Chikoko, Regional Director of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. We recognize and welcome the Mayors and senior officials of more than twenty-four capital cities across our continent. You are indeed most welcome to South Africa.

 

Less than a week ago, on 25 May we celebrated Africa Day. On this day we sang loudly the words of African Union Anthem: “Let us all unite and celebrate together
/ The victories won for our liberation
/ Let us dedicate ourselves to rise together
/ To defend our liberty and unity / O sons and Daughters of Africa / Flesh of the Sun and Flesh of the Sky / Let us make Africa the Tree of Life.”

 

African cities are important roots that feed the “African Tree of Life.” Their economies, culture, and creativity represent some of the fruits of this tree.

 

As President Nelson Mandela said when South Africa was readmitted to the Organisation of African Unity in 1994: “All human civilisation rests on foundations such as the ruins of the African city of Carthage. These architectural remains … all speak of Africa`s contribution to the formation of the condition of civilisation.”

 

The world is urbanizing very rapidly. According to the UN, fifty-four percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050 this will increase to sixty-six percent.

In 1950 only three in ten people lived in urban areas.

 

Continuing population growth and urbanization will add two-and-a-half billion people to the world’s urban population by 2050. Ninety percent of this increase will be in Asia and Africa.

 

In fact, according to the UN, Africa is expected to be the fastest urbanizing region between 2020 to 2050. By 2050 most of the world’s urban population will be concentrated in Asia (with fifty-two percent) and Africa (with twenty-one percent).

 

Currently Africa has only three megacities (cities with a population of more than 10 million), namely, Cairo, Kinshasa and Lagos. It is projected that by 2030 three more megacities will be added, namely Johannesburg, Luanda, and Dar es Salaam. Most of the fastest growing cities with a population of less than 1 million are also located in Asia and Africa.

 

Sixty-three percent of South Africans already live in urban areas. This will rise to seventy-one percent by 2030. By 2050 eight in ten South Africans will live in urban areas.

 

We need to guide the growth and management of urban areas in ways that unleash the potential of our cities and towns and reverse the terrible legacy of apartheid spatial injustice.

 

Ensuring that these most rapidly developing cities in the world develop sustainably, is of vital importance, not only for our continent, but for our planet.

 

Despite the progress, unfortunately, most of cities are still highly spatially fragmented due to segregated and class-based colonial planning systems, and in South Africa, apartheid planning policies.

 

To facilitate mobility and efficiency in the integration and densification process, land policies, infrastructure investments, and market based energies require coherent policy frameworks that focus equally on both megacities, as well as intermediate, medium-sized cities and towns, with a primary focus on generating inclusivity and social cohesion through such endeavours.

 

Thus we all need well-developed policies that promote integrated and sustainable urban development, failing which we will continue to face the downsides of urbanisation.

 

It is imperative that we all strive develop national urban policies that indeed promote spatial transformation and thus forge a new economic and social landscape that is a clear departure from the past.

 

This African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum brings together the ingenuity, the experience, the expertise and the commitment to find African solutions to African challenges that are also global challenges.

 

This forum provides us with a valuable opportunity to share and learn from each other. It allows us exchange ideas and experiences regarding on appropriate policies, design ingenuity, innovation, technical proficiency, robust implementation mechanisms and adequate infrastructural investments.

 

In doing so you are giving effect to the injunction of the AU Agenda 2063  that we must develop: “An African approach to development and transformation, learning from the diverse, unique and shared experiences and best practices of various countries and regions as a basis of forging an African approach to transformation.”

There is no reason why African cities cannot rank amongst the worlds most liveable cities.

 

But achieving these objectives will require thought that formulates policy that guides action, and action that leads to reflection and more thought that leads to better policy.

Theory without action is empty, and action without theory is blind.

 

This Conference takes place at an opportune time for this discussion: internationally, continentally and nationally.

 

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals recognizes the importance of urban areas. Goal Eleven of the seventeen SDG’s is: “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

 

AU Agenda 2063 recognises that: “Cities and other settlements are hubs of cultural and economic activities, with modernized infrastructure, and people have access to affordable and decent housing including housing finance together with all the basic necessities of life such as, water, sanitation, energy, public transport and ICT.”

One of Agenda 2063’s key objectives is to: “Provide opportunities for all Africans to have decent and affordable housing in clean, secure and well planned environments.”

It proposes that this objective should be achieved through the following four measures:

One, providing access to affordable and decent housing to all in sustainable human settlements;

Two, ensuring effective and territorial planning and land tenure, use and management systems;

Three, ensuring balanced development of all human settlements while embracing a rural urban continuum; and

Four, improving the livelihoods of the great percentage of the people working and living in slums and informal settlements.

Implementing this objective will require, in the words of South Africa’s National Development Plan for a country to do three things:

 

One, clarify and relentlessly pursue a national vision for spatial development;

 

Two, sharpen the instruments for achieving this vision; and

 

Three, build the required capabilities in the state and among citizens.

 

South Africa’s National Development Plan devotes a chapter to Transforming human settlements and the national space economy and sets the vision that: “By 2030 South Africa should observe meaningful and measurable progress in reviving rural areas and in creating more functionally integrated, balanced and vibrant urban settlements.”

 

In pursuit of this vision South Africa has adopted an Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF).

 

Cabinet approved this important policy on 26 April. This was announced by President Zuma on Freedom Day – 27 April 2016.

 

The IUDF marks a New Deal for South African cities and towns. It will steer urban growth towards a sustainable model of compact, connected and coordinated towns and cities.

 

The IUDF provides a roadmap to implement the NDP’s vision for spatial transformation – creating liveable, inclusive and resilient towns and cities while reversing the apartheid spatial legacy.

 

The IUDF provides key principles and policy levers for creating better urban spaces.

We will strengthen rural-urban linkages, promote urban resilience, create safe urban spaces and ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable groups are addressed.

 

The Framework recognises that the country has different types of cities and towns with different roles and requirements.

 

The IUDF must be implemented in locally relevant ways that also promote sustainable rural development and strengthen rural-urban linkages.

 

The Framework proposes that jobs, housing and transport should be used to promote urban restructuring as outlined in the NDP.

 

The objective is to transform urban spaces by:

  • Reducing travel costs and distances;
  • Preventing further development of housing in marginal places;
  • Increasing urban densities to reduce sprawl;
  • Improving public transport and the coordination between transport modes; and
  • Shifting jobs and investment towards dense peripheral townships.

 

Achieving this vision of spatial transformation will require all spheres of government, the private sector, labour and civil society, and most importantly the citizens of our municipalities.

 

The successful implementation of this vision require that the country must, we want to repeat:

 

One, clarify and relentlessly pursue a national vision for spatial development;

 

Two, sharpen the instruments for achieving this vision; and

 

Three, build the required capabilities in the state and among citizens

 

We must say what we mean, and we must mean what we say, and most importantly we must do what we say we will do. Theory without action is empty, action without theory is blind.

 

Last year the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum met in Tshwane from 23 to 25 June.

 

At the conclusion of your deliberations you declared that you would advance sustainability within the African continent through ground breaking initiatives. Has the ground been broken by these initiatives?

 

You committed yourselves to convene annually as leaders of Capital Cities in Africa. This you have done and we welcome you back in Tshwane.

 

You committed to take stock of progress and consolidate positions in urban sustainability. This is what you are about to do.

 

You noted the current global challenges that threaten growth and development in our cities, especially those related to climate change, global economic slowdown, trade facilitation, connectivity, land degradation caused by mining activities and water shortages. How has this assessment of the global conjuncture influenced your actions? Have conditions changed since your last meeting?

 

You highlighted the important role of capital cities in providing leadership for other local authorities within country borders. Has this leadership been exercised?

 

You recognized the importance of partnerships and collaborative efforts in the implementation of sustainability programmes. Have these these partnerships been forged and have these collaborative efforts been engaged in?

 

You also recognized that while we look towards international policies and national legislative prescripts for policy directives, real action can only happen at a local sphere of government. Has this real action been taken?

 

We are confident that the ingenuity, the experience, and the expertise gathered here will answer these questions openly and honestly. We hope that they will be answered in the affirmative.

 

But if not, we trust that you will use this important gathering to identify what obstacles led to your decisions not being implemented. That you will identify the actions and resources required to overcome these obstacle and that you will agree on a programme of action that will set realistic, time bound and resource backed objectives to ensure that these decisions are implemented.

 

We wish you well in your deliberations and look forward their receiving their outcomes. We also look forward to the next years African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum and receiving reports of the successful implementation of all the decisions taken at this meeting.

 

Action without theory is blind, theory without action is empty.

 

In the words of the AU Anthem: “Let us dedicate ourselves to rise together
/ To defend our liberty and unity / O sons and Daughters of Africa / Flesh of the Sun and Flesh of the Sky / Let us make Africa the Tree of Life.”

 

Baie dankie; Inkosi; Thank you; Ke a leboga; Inkomu; Ndi a livhuwa; Muito obrigado; Merci beaucoup; Asante sana; Shukran.