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Cities are major drivers of economic growth, however, urban planning and infrastructure in many cities and towns across the emerging nations are not keeping pace with the burgeoning population.
For instance, in Africa, aside from the benefit of shelter, the housing sector makes a substantial contribution to direct and indirect employment, to the development of the financial sector and thus, to the GDP of all economies, with an average economic multiplier of between 2-3.
Rapid urbanisation means greater demand for housing, increasing pressure on infrastructure such as roads, water, power and waste management services. If physical growth is not properly planned and managed, economic growth can be severely restricted and the lack of opportunity for economic participation can result in low wages, unemployment and the consequent development of informal urban fringe settlements.
Unplanned, urban growth also impacts negatively on the environment and public health. Problems are created with consumer waste disposal, unregulated landfill and dumping, inadequate human waste disposal systems, poor air quality from traffic congestion and uncontrolled industrial emissions, especially when located close to residential areas. Soil erosion and the contamination of the water supply by inadequate storm-water management and disposal systems are other potential consequences.
The impacts of climate change – storms, landslides, drought and flood, El Nino and La Nina effects and the potential encroachment of deserts – must be at the centre of all our considerations, to support the physical and economic sustainability of our partner communities.
In this context, our approach to Urban planning and Architectural design is predicated on sustainability, affordability, cultural identity, public health, functionality and pragmatism, good aesthetics, flexibility, speed of construction and durability.
Our Skills Training Programme during the construction phase and for post-completion maintenance and sustainability is also designed to provide local skills and employment opportunities, in line with various skill-development initiatives convened under the umbrella of the Word Economic Forum’s Global Challenge on Employment, Skills & Human Capital.