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Dar es Salaam
In the light of Africa’s prolonged period of intense urbanization, specialists tackled the question of how to make cities more sustainable at the daylong conference in Tanzania’s capital on October 9.

Five Themes: One Goal

AFD and the French Embassy in Tanzania brought together local and French experts to discuss five themes that lie at the center of urban life: water, sanitation and waste treatment; transport and infrastructure; suburban agriculture; and energy. 

More than half of the world's population lives in urban areas. With about 40% of its population in towns and cities, Africa’s rate is low compared to other regions, with Latin America, Europe and North America all over 75%

And yet, driven by overall high population growth and rural exodus, Africa’s urban population growth rates are among the highest in the world.  By 2100, three of the world’s biggest cities are expected to be in Africa: Dar es Salaam, Lagos and Kinshasa.

The problems arise when towns and cities have a limited ability to plan or cater for the swelling numbers of new arrivals, by providing enough employment or access to amenities.

Difficulties include: 

  • A rising number of people living in precarious neighborhoods
  • Urban sprawl
  • Gender inequality
  • The need for investment in basic infrastructure 
  • Adapting to the effects of climate change

To meet these challenges, AFD has been working for several years to promote sustainable cities by playing a pioneering role with donors. Its strategy has included flexible financial offers to local public actors and in support of local works.

AFD has adopted a strategy for sustainable urban development based on the following objectives:

1.    Access to essential services: 
AFD aims to improve residents' access to housing, employment and basic urban services (access to water, sanitation, street lighting), with particular attention to reducing the negative effects of urban waste disposal for health and the environment. 

2.    Promoting sustainable urban development: 
AFD supports local authorities and governments in the implementation of sustainable development programs, and the rehabilitation of city centers.  The Agency also supports the creation of new eco-neighborhoods and new eco-designed cities and alternatives to urban sprawl. It prioritizes projects that boost cities’ resilience to climate change by promoting low greenhouse gas emission projects, as well as public transport initiatives and alternatives to the car.

3.    Strengthening local actors:
AFD support can range from sovereign loans to states, to non-sovereign loans directly to local authorities and technical assistance. Since 2014, AFD has committed €9.6 billion in commitments to sustainable cities, including €3.2 billion for Africa. AFD financed, for instance, the rehabilitation of the most precarious districts of the Antananarivo urban area in Madagascar. It also granted a €120 million loan directly to Johannesburg in South Africa to finance the city's investment program for the implementation of its space transformation policy.

AFD is also involved in East African countries with two urban projects in Kenya aimed at rehabilitating disadvantaged neighborhoods and public infrastructure in the cities of Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, and Kisumu. In Tanzania, AFD has committed more than €600 million over the past 10 years, particularly in infrastructure: water, sanitation, energy, and transport. The cities to benefit include Mwanza, Bukoba, Musoma and soon Dar Es Salaam in terms of its access to water and sanitation. 

Urban mobility too, is a priority, as illustrated by Dar Es Salaam’s BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system. AFD’s objective is to double its financial commitment to around €100 million per year to support Tanzania in its drive to make its cities more sustainable. 

Further reading