Opinion Piece by Nadir Jeeva, CEO: Afri-Corp Properties International
Port Elizabeth – A week from today various planning authorities will gather to shape and inflect discourse on urban development and the challenges and opportunities of urbanisation under the banner “Developing Future Cities” at the African Real Estate and Infrastructure Summit in Cape Town.
Cities are “smart” when infrastructure, urban assets, public services, human and social capital, mobility systems and other forces are improved and optimised under ICT. The important benefit is higher economic growth, better quality of life for citizens and a more responsible form of stewardship over natural resources. However, the creation of such futuristic cosmopolitan utopias are often complex because of variables and variances in development levels, resource availability, technological infrastructure, innovation, cultural systems and issues such as the digital divide. While other non-African nations are successful in building future cities, their templates can simply not be casted over the cities of this continent each with its own unique set of challenges, opportunities, urban development maps, and local economic development plans.
Commercial real estate developers, investors, property owners and facility managers are a critical link in casting a vision and blue print for future African cities, especially because they provide the spaces and sites for profitability, productivity, sustainability, innovation, cultural cohesion and heritage preservation.
There is a misunderstanding that megacities are the engines of global growth.