African Cities and Climate Change: Planning and Implementing Strategies for Low-Carbon Transitions

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 15:00
Oral Presentation
Xavier LEMAIRE, University College London - Energy Institute, United Kingdom
African cities face apparently intractable challenges. Populations of African countries are now increasingly concentrated in ever-growing cities, while the financial and human resources of African municipalities remain scarce. Municipal departments are furthermore heavily constrained in their action by the fragmented nature of African cities: the difficulty to elaborate integrated strategies comes not only from the usual compartmentalisation of knowledge between administrations, but also for urban planners to acknowledge the diversity of local communities’ trajectories.

This paper relies on observations made during a 4-years UK funded action-research project on low-carbon transitions with medium-size municipalities in Ghana, Uganda and South Africa. The interdisciplinary research team included academics and consulting companies working closely with officers from municipalities. The research focused on having an impact on the practices of urban planners, helping to identify and prioritise actions that could reduce energy use in different sectors while promoting inclusiveness and energy access.

To establish low-carbon strategies implies that stakeholders in the local political arena are able to build a community of practices and develop a common understanding of the challenges faced by their city in implementing energy transition. This can be built by bringing stakeholders around modelling and the construction of energy scenarios in relation with contrasted future possible development paths for their municipality. But institutional changes are also needed to capitalise knowledge in the long-term and to reduce the silo effect, and also channel and allocate adequate funding on identified priorities. Furthermore, permanent organisational interface to favour a dialogue between planners and local communities has to be established and this dialogue structured, especially with inhabitants of informal settlements.