Some 30 senior officials from several Government Ministries in Cameroon are concerting to roll out an ECA-facilitated project to strengthen the capacities of African countries to transform their burgeoning cities into poles of inclusive and sustainable development. The US$500 thousand project, which covers Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Morocco, Uganda and Zambia, has been commissioned within the 9th tranche of the UN’s Development Account. It focuses on bringing the cross-sectoral needs of institutions in charge of national development planning, urban development, housing, industry, finance, agriculture, infrastructure, and statistics to the table in order to design and implement policies/strategies for cities that would engender growth, economic diversification, competitiveness, industrialisation, agriculture development, innovation, trade, employment and overall human development.
In launching the Cameroon-lap of the initiative today, the country’s Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development – H.E. Mr Louis Paul Motaze, who was flanked by Minister Jean Claude Mbwentchou of Housing and Urban Development, thanked the ECA for choosing Cameroon as one of the pioneers of the project and reechoed the high stakes of integrating urbanisation in development planning.
“It is against this backdrop that in its long term development vision, Cameroon is working to create conditions for an integrated economic area in which it intends not only to master the development of cities to make them centres of production and consumption levels that are necessary for the growth of the industrial sector, but also to promote the emergence of peripheral settlements, and the development of medium or secondary towns capable of structuring economic activities in the urban space and helping in the development of surrounding rural areas,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile the Director of the Subregional Office for Central Africa of ECA, Mr Antonio Pedro, used the occasion to draw parallels between urbanisation and industrialisation, which is a key aspect for Africa’s structural transformation currently being emphasised by the Commission.
“Leveraging urbanisation for accelerated industrialisation is thus an important area for any narrative on urbanisation in Africa,” he said, while adding that “such a focus on industrialisation is not merely in relation to boosting national economic performance but would enable cities to be productive and create decent jobs while generating revenues to provide inclusive access to services, infrastructure and overall prosperity.”
Following the launch of the project, resource persons from ECA’s Social Development Policy Division are working with Cameroon’s National Implementation Team (NIT) charged with formulating a National Implementation Plan of the project for the period 2017 and 2018. They will set the steps, approach and means necessary to integrate urbanisation in the country’s development strategy. This cross-sectoral team will comprise experts in national development planning; finance and economic development; trade, infrastructure and industry; agriculture; housing and urban planning; and urban data and statistics, among others.
Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa ( UNECA ).