By Andy Sambidge
Asia and Africa predicted to lead urban population growth over the next four decades
The world's population will increase to 9.3 billion by 2050, with most of the growth in big cities in Africa and Asia, the United Nations has projected in a new report.
Africa and Asia together will account for 86 percent of all growth in the world’s urban population over the next four decades, the UN said, adding that this unprecedented increase will pose new challenges in terms of jobs, housing and infrastructure.
Africa’s urban population will increase from 414 million to over 1.2 billion by 2050 while that of Asia will soar from 1.9 billion to 3.3 billion, according to the 2011 Revision of the World Urbanisation Prospects.
The largest increases in urban population are expected in India, China, Nigeria, the United States and Indonesia, according to the report by the UN Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
Over the next four decades, India will add another 497 million to its urban population, China – 341 million, Nigeria – 200 million, the US – 103 million, and Indonesia – 92 million.
“This unprecedented increase in urban population will provide new opportunities to improve education and public services in Africa and Asia, as more concentrated populations become easier to reach,” DESA said.
It added that this will also pose new challenges of providing urban jobs, housing, energy and infrastructure to mitigate urban poverty, expansion of slums and a deterioration of the urban environment.
“What we are seeing is the very rapid growth of megacities,” the assistant secretary general for Economic Development in DESA, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, said.
He noted that in 1970, only 39 million people lived in so-called megacities but by 2011, 359 million people lived in these megacities – the equivalent to 9.9 per cent of the urban population of the world.
In 2025, some 630 million will live in these megacities – some 13.6 per cent of the world’s urban population by then, he added.