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Innovation: The Key to the Future of African Cities

Lauri Elliott in South Africa.

 

A continuing megatrend for the next generation is urbanization and Africa is no exception. In fact, no country has achieved sustainable economic growth without urbanization, according to the “State of World Cities 2010/2011” by the United Nations. Cape Town represents 14% of South Africa’s GDP and 6.1% of the country’s population while Johannesburg (city proper) represents 15% of South Africa’s GDP and 6.3% of the country’s population, according to the report. 

In some countries like South Korea, the major urban hub (Seoul) represents over 40% of the country’s GDP. Seoul claims 48.6% of South Korea’s GDP and Brussels claims 44% of Belgium’s GDP. On a global scale, the top 100 cities by population account for 25% of the world’s GDP.

As of 2010, Africa had 47 cities with more than a million inhabitants, accounting for 31.6% of total urban population in Africa according to the UN report.  The three largest cities on the continent in 2010 were Cairo (about 11 million), Lagos (10.5 million), and Kinshasa (8.7 million).

Cities are places where we work and live and in the current context are extremely important to economic and social development in countries. A key of objective of the Gauteng Global City Region (GCR) in South Africa is to create an inclusive region, socially and economically. But as the current challenges faced attest, this is not necessarily an easy task.

Christopher Hire, Executive Director of Innovation at 2ThinkNow in Australia, says innovation is key to making cities what we want them to be socially and economically. Hire and his team have developed the Innovation Cities Program and Index. On the Innovations Cities Emerging Index, there are seven African cities – Cape Town, Casablanca, Johannesburg, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, and Port Louis – listed out of sixteen cities.

A city is described as a Nexus, Hub, Node, Influencer, or Upstart. A nexus city is one that is critical for both economic and social innovation. A hub city has dominance or influence on key economic or social segments. A node city performs well across many segments. Cape Town is described as a node city for innovation. [ more ]

 

Lauri Elliott is a strategist with over 25 years of business experience, specializing in global business, innovation, technology, and new ventures and start-ups.

 

Visit Lauri Elliott's page

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