Africa should take common positions on global issues to be taken seriously, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday in a speech delivered on his behalf by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Buhari was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Africa Regional Meeting on Habitat III held at the International Conference Centre in Abuja.
He said Nigeria welcomes a common African position on urbanisation because “it takes account of our joint efforts over the last decade”.
According to him, Africa must change the story of cities and settlement from one of chaos and slums to one of positive planning, tranquillity and environmental sustainability.
President Buhari observed that the African Regional Meeting with the theme ‘African Priorities For The New Urban Agenda’ organised by the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) is timely for Africa to pursue a new urban agenda which addresses some of its peculiar challenges.
He said the kind of urbanisation which Africa should have must accordingly take place in a manner that simultaneously promotes growth and social inclusion, noting “that despite having the fastest rate of urbanisation in the world at over 4.5 per cent a year, Africa is yet to be on a sustainable path to achieving these twin objectives of economic growth and social inclusion”.
Buhari “Africa is one of the continents with some of the high rates of inequalities in the world, fuelled by high population growth, unequal access to healthcare, education, opportunities for income and decent life.” He then submitted that the “increasing number of slums in Africa is a depressing manifestation of these inequalities”
“These challenges are related to poor planning, policy gaps and policy inadequacies, budgetary inadequacies. Poor planning of urban areas that can be attributable to limited capacities, insufficient resources and outdated data,” he observed.
He explained that the prevailing dehumanising state of Africa’s urban settlements “has led to migration at a time of resource constraints which has resulted in population explosion and shortage of houses,that has pushed people living in cities to build houses in places which makes them vulnerable to natural disasters; causing significant economic and social risks.”
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