Recent figures released by the UN predict that in the next decade half of the world’s population growth will take place in Africa. According to the African Development Bank, Dar es Salaam will have grown by a staggering 85% by 2025.
These predictions have provoked a shift in the way cities in Africa are being considered. The Economic Commission for Africa’s recently launched Economic Report on Africa (ERA) 2017 focused on urbanization as a key for industrialization. Well-managed and innovatively planned cities can provide more opportunities for small-scale businesses and the informal sector alike.
The 2017 World Bank Report, “Africa’s Cities: Opening the Doors to the World,“ indicates that Africa is urbanizing at a lower GDP per capita than developing regions. When countries in the East Asia and Pacific region reached a threshold of urbanization comparable to Africa’s urban threshold today, the GDP per capita was USD3,600. In contrast, Africa has reached 40% urbanization, but GDP per capita remains low at USD1,000. Public spending on cities is even more critical with an emphasis on being as efficient as possible and leveraging other sources of financing.
In Tanzania, with industrialization at the core of the government’s economic development goals, onlookers are interested to see how the urbanization policy will be realized. An injection of a further USD130 million into the Tanzania Strategic Cities Project (TSCP), announced in May 2017, can only bode well for the country’s plans to transform its approach to urban living.
TSCP, officially launched in September 2010, is an initiative to improve the quality of basic urban services in the Tanzanian cities of Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Dodoma, Tanga, Mtwara, Mbeya, Kigoma, and Mwanza, as supporting these medium-sized cities will boost their industrial sectors. Initially planned to last five years, the TSCP was extended following an evaluation of the project’s success up to 2013. Now, a further round of funds is being made available for a second round of developments.
There are three major components to the TSCP: core urban infrastructure and services, institutional strengthening on the whole, as well as support for the implementation and preparation for future urban pilot schemes launched by the Tanzanian government. The World Bank has been the key development partner in this initiative, followed closely by the Royal Danish government, which has also provided funds and expertise.
Throughout the course of the project, local government authorities (LGAs) have been equipped with better waste-management capacity, including more landfill facilities, enhanced transport links, and innovative administration tools, such as Geographical Information System (GIS)-based Local Government Revenue Collection and Information Systems (LGRCIS).
The latter is having a positive impact on revenue generated by LGAs, increasing this by 30% in the first year of implementation. Furthermore, as World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said, upon release of the latest round of funding, “investing in infrastructure has a significant multiplier effect, spurring growth in subsequent years.“
On a more pedestrian level, changes brought in by the TSCP in the various target cities have had a huge impact on the daily life of citizens. In mountainous Arusha in Tanzania’s north, drainage, pavements, lighting, and walkways have so improved the appearance and functionality of the city that it has earned itself the sobriquet “the Geneva of East Africa.“ What is more, Arusha generated TZS2.7 billion (USD1.2 million) in various taxes, levies, and licenses during the first three months following the inauguration of the LGRCIS system in 2014.
According to the World Bank’s impact report, by March 2017, the project boasted a total of 1,491,005 individual beneficiaries. It is hoped that the new release of funds for the project will go a long way towards reaching the end target—forecast for May 2020—of over 1,700,000 direct beneficiaries.