UK’s International Development Secretary has pledged new British aid support to build the African cities of the future, so the continent can continue to thrive and reach its economic potential.
Alok Sharma, on a visit to Kenya, announced he would set up a UK Centre for Cities and Infrastructure, which will turbo-charge investment in fast-growing cities across the developing world.
The new UK Centre for Cities and Infrastructure is backed by £48 million of UK funding. Of this total funding £30 million will go to support projects in countries across Africa. An extra £15million of UK aid funding will also be provided for its expansion. DFID has previously announced Africa funding through the programme in Uganda, Zambia and Ethiopia.
The Centre will provide British expertise to African governments and city authorities to improve the way cities are planned, built and run, including making them more environmentally-friendly. It will focus on improvements to infrastructure, including water and energy networks.
During his trip, Sharma also announced an expansion of the Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) Cities and Infrastructure for Growth programme to Ghana, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
The programme helps UK businesses invest in quality, resilient infrastructure, boosts access to reliable and affordable power and creates construction jobs.
‘Our new UK aid support, announced ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit, will contribute to creating the African cities of the future, using British expertise to provide quality, green infrastructure across the continent,’ Sharma said.
‘Infrastructure is the backbone of economic growth. It helps the poorest people access basic services such as clean water and electricity, creates jobs and boosts business.
‘I’ve seen this first hand as I’ve travelled across Kenya and am proud to see British companies thriving here. This will benefit people and businesses across Africa, but also back at home in the UK, creating a successful future for all of us,’ he added.
Sharma’s trip came ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit next Monday (20 January), which will create new lasting partnerships to deliver more investment, jobs and growth, benefitting both Africa and the UK.
African cities produce more than half of the continent’s income, but too many suffer from poor connectivity and congestion which continues to hinder growth.
The continent’s urban population is 472 million and set to double over the next 25 years. This growth provides an opportunity for African cities to prosper if the right infrastructure and jobs are available with UK support.