By Victorine BIY NFOR, Cameroon Tribune
Experts held a meeting to this effect in Abuja, Nigeria recently. Delegates to the African Regional Meeting of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III conference met in Abuja Nigeria from February, 23 to 27 have agreed to foster the development of smart cities with improved urban systems for better functionality, efficiency and effectivedelivery of urban basic services and infrastructure. Cameroon’s delegation to the Abuja forum was led by the Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Jean Claude Mbwentchou. He presented Cameroon’s experience in the sector hinging on the ongoing participative programme to develop slums in the Yaounde VI, Bamenda III and Kribi II localities in the Centre, North West and South Regions repectively. He stated that the project is aimed at getting the populations of the slums out of their predicaments by supplying them with basic urban neccessities.
The Abuja Declaration that sanctioned three days of brainstorming stressed the need to harness the potentials of urbanisation as a means of speeding inclusive and sustainable growth. The Conference listed the emerging challenge of forced urbanization due to, among others, conflicts, terrorism and natural disasters, forcing populations to move en masse from rural areas to urban centres and vice versa, and across borders, stretching existing infrastructure resulting in increased insecurity and poverty which need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner.
In the Declaration, delegates pledged to, "Harness the potential of urbanisation to accelerate structural transformation for inclusive and sustainable growth through allocating adequate financial resources to promote sustainable urbanisation and human settlements development to drive structural transformation for the benefit of all citizens."
This includes promotion of land titling and registration, resource generation through land base revenue and land value capture; inclusive economic growth that translates to full employment and decent jobs as well as improved living standards for all; enhancing connectivity between rural and urban areas to harness the full potential of the urban-rural linkages; strengthening linkages between urbanisation and structural change policies, including accelerated industrialisation and agricultural modernisation strategies for high productivity and value addition.
The Habitat III Abuja Declaration urged participants to live up to the recommendations as they brace up for the third meeting of Habitat III preparatory committee to hold in Surabaya Indonesia in July, 2016.