Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, as urged African Ministers of Housing and Urban Development and other stakeholders to utilize the continent’s commonality of purpose to define the unique peculiarities of human settlements’ development challenges and infuse same in the New Urban Agenda fashioned for the world in Habitat 111.
Speaking at the opening of the high level segment at the Habitat 111 Africa Regional Meeting in Abuja, the Minister expressed optimism that the regional conference would produce far reaching policy recommendations and clear-cut set of declarations that would enrich the New Agenda and bring visible profit to Africa. The Minister observed that the conference with the theme “Africa’s Priorities for the New Urban Agenda”, is expected to chart ” a clear path towards a sustainable urban future for Africa and Africans”, adding that ” for all our cities and towns to be places of opportunity and prosperity- to be crucibles for change- we need to first chart the course ourselves”.
The Minister observed that no city can grow properly without robust infrastructure solutions such as good roads, bridges, affordable housing and decent schools. Also constant electricity, clean water and clever town planning, adding that the utilization of infrastructure was critical to deal with the realities of decades of urbanization and its challenges.
Secretary- General of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat 111), Dr Joan Clos said this was the first time in the history of development, that urbanization is being considered as a tool for development and engine for growth. According to him, what is being witnessed through the initiative was a paradigm shift which identifies urbanisation as a solution to many of the challenges facing the world today.
He said the New Urban Agenda can be an essential part of solutions to inefficient transport, pollution, unemployment and social exclusion, adding that the New Urban Agenda forsees a three pronged approach that takes into consideration three key elements: Rules and Regulations, Good Urban design and Municipal Financial design.
Other speakers at the event supported the drive by the United Nations to identify the need for continents of its member countries to deliberate on their common challenges on urbanisation in order to identify and reflect their various inputs which will form the New Urban Agenda when the October Quito conference comes to a close.
Fifty-two (52) African countries are participating at the 3 -day event which is ending today. The Regional Meeting will produce the “Abuja Declaration” that will be considered as Africa’s Common Position to be adopted and imputed in the final document of the New Urban Agenda. Other dignitaries who spoke include: Commissioner for Political Affairs, African Union Commission, Dr Aisha L Abdullahi, Minister of Land, Urbanism and Habitat of Chad, Mr Mbogo Ngabo, and Minister of Urban Renewal and Living Conditions, Senegal, Mr Diene Farba Sarr