Africa is experiencing the most rapid exodus from rural to urban areas on the planet: Its urban population is projected to increase from today’s 414 million to over 1.2 billion by 2050.
This migration, unlike others in the past, is not occurring alongside an upswing in economic growth and opportunity. Access to social services remains limited, leading to increasingly widespread urban poverty, with more than 60 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s urban population currently living in slums. These communities exist on the fringes of cities with inadequate or no access to the most basic services including sanitation, infrastructure, healthcare, safety, and education.
Africa’s increased urban population will place significant pressure on local governments to provide services at an unprecedented scale. These governments will also have to plan for future mega-projects including housing, public health facilities, urban planning, energy provision, and resilience to natural disasters aggravated by climate change.
Gavin Silber served as the director of the Social Justice Coalition from 2010 to 2013. He has also served in various capacities in other organizations focused on advancing social justice, human rights, and political engagement in South Africa’s poor and working class communities.
He has advised various stakeholders at the local, national, and international level on issues related to local governance and urban development in the developing world. Silber is currently in New York pursuing a master’s degree in urban planning at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School for Public Service.