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Africa and Asia to lead urban population growth.

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. Both regions will together account for 86% of all increases in the world's urban population according to the 2011 Revision of the World Urbanisation Prospects, launched by the United Nations last week.

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.

However, 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.

With half of humanity living in cities today, urbanisation is a critical issue for Rio+20--the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development--which takes place from 20 to 22 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Cities are where the pressures of migration, globalisation, economic development, social inequality, environmental pollution and climate change are most directly felt. Yet, at the same time, they are the engines of the world economy and centres of innovation where many solutions to global problems are being piloted.

According to Sha Zukang, secretary-general of Rio+20: "The launch of the World Urbanisation Prospects is timely because world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, civil society organisations and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet. We expect world leaders to come up with concrete action plans to realise sustainable cities for the future we want," he said.

The largest increases in urban population are expected in the following countries: India, China, Nigeria, the United States of America and Indonesia. Over the next four decades (2010 to 2050), India will add another 497 million to its urban population; China--341 million, Nigeria--200 million, the United States -103 million and Indonesia--92 million.
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Publication:Namibia Economist (Windhoek, Namibia)
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Apr 13, 2012
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