Tackling air quality issues in African cities is particularly important. While Africa is currently the least urbanized continent, it is also the region experiencing the fastest rate of urbanisation in the world, with an average annual growth rate of 2.55 per cent in the period 2000 – 2015 that will likely rise urban population to 2.5 billion by 2050. The air quality issues in African cities are expected to grow at least proportionally as the continent continues to urbanize over the next decades.
Coordinated and adequate urban and territorial planning may be the key to face this dual challenge of urbanisation and deteriorating air quality. However, the complexity of air pollution and its implications with urbanization and multi-level governance deserves a more detailed analysis to identify the essential drivers and factors involved in the improvement of air quality in African cities. Despite some common features, urban air pollution largely depends on local conditions, and it is essential to consider the specific characteristics of each city in the context of the socio-economic and political context of their respective countries. Open burning of waste (for instance), but also the transport sector, vehicle fuels, and a growing industrial production adds considerable pressure to urban air quality. Many cities in this region have the additional challenge of natural pollution due to windblown dust from deserts or sea salt that interact with anthropogenic emissions and cause large health impacts.
The session will kick off with a keynote presentation of the recent report on Air Quality in African Cities, followed by a Davos-style discussion featuring experts and practitioners from Africa and abroad.
Keynote: Rafael Borge (University of Madrid, Spain (lead author) online)
Davos style discussion round:
Representatives from Accra, Cairo, Cape Town, Dakar, and Nairobi (tbc.).