With Dar mega city status by 2030, new methods worth trying

05Dec 2018
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
With Dar mega city status by 2030, new methods worth trying

RESULTS of the 2012 census already showed that the city of Dar es Salaam is rapidly growing, more than could casually be surmised, as the population stood at more than five million people-

 partly given its outstretched quasi-rural areas integrated into the city. Yet with massive infrastructure works going on, and by economic pressure that is felt all over the country, chances that the city continues to expand are well underlined, while some United Nations agencies make out that Dar will be a megacity by 2030. It is a vision that scarcely any planning agency has ever raised at the national level, and what is to be done on it.

Visionaries in international organizations and at the regional level are coming up with ideas as to how to manage Africa’s urban centres generally. One way is to shift the capital so as to lessen the growth pressure, whose impact is yet to be estimated for Dar es Salaam, as current UN projections are unlikely to have taken into account that the capital is substantially shifting to Dodoma. Yet not all megacities or projected megacities are capital cities, as Lagos in Nigeria for once lost capital status long ago while Mumbai was never one, in India.

Another megacity, Cairo is being helped out with a shift of government to a new location that is just starting to have earthworks put in place, while South Africa has no megacity problem in the sense of a city that dominates the whole country. Business has its capital in Johannesburg, the state capital is in Pretoria, while the legislature is based in Cape Town, while ordinarily a split of political and business capital is all what is possible. Now some strategists are coming up with an idea of satellite towns to curb massive growth of capital cities, being suggested both in relation to location of industries and housing.

Former Kenyan prime minister and lately nominated special envoy of the African Union for Infrastructure Development, Raila Odinga, surveyed this issue in an address upon taking up his new office. His remarks are likely to enliven the debate on the matter, as in many cases the poor survive better in large cities than in small towns and rural areas since the demand for all sorts of commodities is higher and the purchasing power more assured.  Raila asked housing developers to focus on satellite towns, whereas the point of departure ought to have been industry, as then the housing would follow; he largely reversed the issue.

There was a report in the regional media as to how Diaspora financing had changed the face of Kisii town in Kenya as Diaspora communities invest back home, and a study available on the internet shows that in 2015 there was a Kisii county fiscal strategy paper. With the fifth phase government directing regions to spearhead industries, perhaps more work needs to be done on fiscal decentralisation to enable each region to set out ways of attracting investors, as Treasury thinks largely of TRA filling the basket, nationally. The old export processing zones aren’t the solution now but growing the local market, converting land to assets. Investors are first attracted to land as otherwise they seek spaces close to big cities to cut transport costs.