The need for social distancing and better sanitation could leapfrog African city developed into a more sustainable future.
This is according to Duncan Bonnett, Director Market Access & Research at Africa House, and research partner of exhibition organiser Messe Muenchen South Africa, who says that while Africa’s architects and planners have long been pushing for greener, smarter better designed urban spaces, the Covid-19 pandemic may help fast-track moves to better living spaces.
Speaking ahead of the Bauma CONEXPO AFRICA trade show, Bonnett said that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused delays and disruptions across constructions and infrastructure development. However, there are reasons to remain positive about this sector and Africa as a whole.
These, he said, included a new need for the realignment of developments such as commercial and hospitality spaces, the reconfiguration of retail developments and the reimagining of towns and cities.
“We could see redevelopment and remodelling of spaces, the development of new warehousing and logistics hubs as e-commerce really takes off; and the growth of retail distribution infrastructure closer to outlets and consumers,” he says.
He added that there is another opportunity“Another opportunity in the redevelopment of urban spaces in South Africa and the rest of Africa. Bonnet also emphasized that the pandemic has brought to light to maintain safe social distancing and to ensure the safety of water and sanitation for informal settlements and townships.
“This is an opportunity for investors, governments and private sector to reconfigure how Africa lives – reimagining housing, green spaces, sanitation, power, and the work environment to ensure that both urban and rural spaces are resilient to disruption such as pandemics,” Bonnet explains.
The growth of urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa has accelerated in recent years and this growth is expected to pick up over the next 15 years, Bonnett says.
“In the same way as much of Africa leapfrogged telephony progress and went direct to smartphones, we now have an opportunity to develop new urban areas that are sustainable, environmentally friendly and resilient to disruption. This shock to the system could push us in the right direction to develop better integrated, smarter cities,” Bonnet says.
Bonnett says Africa has much to learn from international best practice and pan-African forays into sustainable cities and infrastructure.
“This is the time to have the conversations and stimulate thinking around how we do this. Events like Bauma CONEXPO Africa can play a key role in creating the linkages and getting processes going so that the future-proof, sustainable African city is not just a theoretical concept,” Bonnet says.
Suzette Scheepers, CEO of Messe Muenchen South Africa organisers of Bauma CONEXPO AFRICA, says new approaches, technologies and construction materials can underpin Africa’s efforts to reimagine urban development.
“Despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic, the development will continue, and new opportunities will emerge across the continent. At Bauma CONEXPO AFRICA, thought leaders from around the world and across Africa have an opportunity to assess new approaches and forge new partnerships that can support the development of the African cities of the future,” she says.
Bauma CONEXPO AFRICA, sub-Saharan Africa’s Leading Trade Fair for Construction, Building Material, Mining, Agriculture & Forestry Machines, Machinery and Vehicles, will be staged in Johannesburg from 13 – 16 October 2021. For more information, go to https://www.bcafrica.com/en/
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