"As African countries seek to achieve inclusive economic growth to combat poverty, unemployment, inequality and informality, among other challenges, it is imperative that their policies recognize and realize the potential of urbanization. Cities, if well planned and managed, can become engines of structural transformation through the expansion of the productive sectors of the economy, including industries and services. " These were the views expressed by the Head of the Data Centre of the Central Africa Office of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Ms. Mama Keita at the conclusion of the National Training Workshop on Urbanization and National Development Planning, which took place from 4 to 6 June, 2018 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
This national training workshop was organized by ECA and the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development of Cameroon, under the auspices of the 9th Tranche of the Development Account Project of the United Nations, to develop the capacity of Member States to design and implement strategies for inclusive and sustainable cities in Africa. The aim of this project, as well as the national training workshop, was to enable participating Member States to harness the potential of urbanization for structural transformation and inclusive and job-creating economic growth.
Cameroon's urban areas, although representing just over 56% of the country's population, account for more than 65% of its GDP. With the steady increase of the urban population in the country and a demographic transition towards a very young population, cities will play a central role in determining the country's development trajectory in the coming years. Therefore, the strategic alignment of urbanization in the country's national development plan is imperative.
In the light of the above, the National Training Workshop on Urbanization and National Development Planning is of crucial importance. The workshop brought together key national development planning officials, as well as representatives of local authorities and the private sector, to deliberate on an action plan for the global and strategic integration of the urban agenda in the national development plan of Cameroun. The meeting resulted in the development of an action plan defining the main entry points for integrating urbanization into the national development plan.
The national training workshop was presided over by Mr. Njie Thomas Kinge – Director of North-South Cooperation and Multilateral Organizations in Cameroon’s Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development. He stressed that urbanization was imperative for Cameroon's development and that this workshop was therefore of considerable importance.
According to Mr. Kinge, though the Cameroonian government already had a national urbanization plan which outlines the needs of cities nationwide as well as the expertise and financing needed to meet the needs within specific timeframes, the approach from ECA with updated tools would prove very useful for systematically mainstreaming cardinal urban factors into all development planning.
Mr. Kinge congratulated ECA and facilitators for their efforts over the past three days and assured that this work plan will be taken into account in Cameroon planning process. In fact, an action plan for optimally integrating urbanization concerns into the country’s National Development Plan has been crafted thanks to the workshop.