Uganda is one of the least urbanized countries in Africa, yet with more than 50% of national output produced in urban areas, she experiences exponential urban growth and expansion at a rapid rate.
According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) 2019/20 Uganda’s fast-growing population stands at 41m with an annual growth rate of 5.2%. Urban population is about 11.7 million people with an annual growth rate of 6.4%. The economic benefits from urban growth will come from exploiting economies of scale and agglomeration. Urbanization also further advances the country’s business sectors by providing more jobs and a more diverse economy. Commercialization and trade offers towns and cities better business opportunities, returns and improves the quality of life of its residents.
Urban planning in Uganda is still a limping ideology to date. In May 2019, Uganda’s cabinet approved the creation of 15 smart cities in a phased manner in over four years. These cities include; Jinja, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Masaka, Mbale, Arua, Gulu, Hoima, Lira, Soroti, Entebbe, Moroto, Nakasongola, Kabale and Wakiso.
In Uganda, the term “Smart Cities” or “smart local governments” is rarely talked about in the management of cities and local governments. Kampala has been the only city in Uganda, until July 1, 2020, when 15 more regional cities were created following Uganda’s Government decision to roll out the “Smart Cities” concept. Although not on a grand scale in comparison to other more advanced cities world over.
The challenges that most urban areas in Uganda face, include;
Public transport Management, Local revenue assessment and collection, limited interaction between urban authorities and citizens, high dependence on paperwork, high cost of doing business due to hefty bureaucratic procedures, licensing of businesses, manual land transactions, disjointed business clusters among many others. Thus, the creation of more sustainable cities creates an opportunity to improve the quality of life of its residents through innovation and ICT.
In conclusion, the new cities should consider a transition to smart governance, smart energy, smart building, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, smart technology, smart healthcare and smart citizen.
Our cities therefore should invest in smart city projects by tapping into the existing pool of vibrant, talented young people.
What ideas do you have that contribute to innovation , sustainable growth of cities and improving the quality of life of its inhabitants?
What’s your idea?