Business

Why Sustainable Infrastructure Is A Necessity for East Africa’s Urbanization and Climate Change Mitigation


By Kenneth Bundi and Edward Kerich

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 20 – Rapid urbanization in recent decades has created many socio-economic advantages, with cities and urban areas contributing significantly to economic growth.

However, the growth also introduces several challenges that create severe constraints to sustainable development. The top two critical challenges being the ability to attract infrastructure investment and climate change.

The current urban population of East Africa is about 132 million according to the UN Habitat. The rapid growth in population is putting pressure on urban infrastructure and affecting the way people live and move around in cities.

The population in the region is expected to grow to about 418 million by 2050 further straining the existing infrastructure and urban-based systems.

The burgeoning needs of the city and urban population must be addressed through adequate planning for critical infrastructure, which includes consistent supply of energy for households and commercial use, access to clean water, adequate waste management systems, and construction and expansion of existing transport systems.

Cities consume a majority of the region’s energy, producing more than 60% of greenhouse gas emissions driven by infrastructure construction and its use, such as buildings and transport, industries, and manufacturing plants.

Additionally, cities in East Africa are particularly vulnerable because they are characterized by rapidly swelling informal settlements that lack basic infrastructure and services.

Such living conditions further expose communities to the harshest impacts of climate change, such as flooding, lack of access to clean water, and spread of tropical diseases further exacerbating the challenge of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Governments, along with the private sector in the region, should work together to create a balance between the required infrastructure for sustainable urbanization, climate change adaptation, and mitigation in economies with competing investment capital requirements.

To achieve this balance, there is a need to develop new ways of measuring the impact of green and non-green infrastructure projects on urban and city plans.

As signatories to the Paris Accord, all East African countries have targets to reduce national carbon emissions. Implementation guidelines on carbon emission measurements, however, have not been enforced.

The region as a whole needs to take action to support, review, and amend urban centres and cities’ infrastructure policies and plans to be more climate resilient.

At a glance, focus should be placed on the construction of affordable and sustainable housing, supply of sustainable energy, clean water access, sustainable waste management systems, and construction of smart and green transport systems – including new road and rail systems that can manage the population pressure while balancing climate change impact.

Improved access to these basic services will contribute to climate change mitigation, adaptation, and transition to net-zero.

All stakeholders to rally behind the greening of urban and city centres in the region. Local municipalities in East Africa need to engage with their respective national governments to come up with clear green tax policies and incentives.

Such incentives will encourage investors to fund and build sustainable infrastructure and promote projects that decarbonize, hence improving their bottom lines. The private sector can offer solutions by investing in sustainable infrastructure to bridge the funding gap.

Also important on a local and national level will be factors such as green tax and incentives. Local municipalities in East Africa need to engage with their respective national governments to come up with clear green tax policies and incentives.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Such incentives will encourage investors to fund and build sustainable infrastructure and promote projects that decarbonize, hence improving their bottom lines. The call to action is to all stakeholders to rally behind the greening of urban and city centres in the region.

On the plus side, climate-friendly policies provide an opportunity for markets to attract investments in sustainable infrastructure.

There is a growing base of stakeholders — including investors and governments — looking to develop and benefit from energy-efficient and sustainably built assets.

Increased shareholder activism and a focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations.

The authors are consultants with PwC Kenya’s Risk Assurance Services





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *