Urbanisation: Nigeria rises to the challenge


By Kirsten Jack

Enugu has always been a popular choice for investment, but unable to withstand socioeconomic change. Now it is set to become Nigeria’s flagship city.

Nigeria is urbanising rapidly; more than 50% of its 170 million population now live in cities. This is expected to rise 75% by 2050. Whilst this reflects a surge in Nigeria’s economic growth, rapid urbanisation has resulted in unplanned development and deteriorating service delivery. Housing shortages, worsening environmental conditions and unemployment are increasing people’s vulnerability to infrastructure failure and rising urban poverty.

The city of Enugu is typical of this trend. The mainland state in south-eastern Nigeria is a popular choice for migration due to its mild climate and extensive economic opportunity. As such, investors flooded the market and a deluge of construction and development followed. But this was short-lived. Rapid expansion in Enugu put a huge strain on its infrastructure. Power shortages drove away investment, and insufficient transportation infrastructure made citizens highly vulnerable.

But in 2014, Enugu beat over 330 applications from 94 countries to become a Rockefeller Resilient City. 100 Resilient Cities - pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation - is dedicated to helping cities become more resilient to physical, social and economic challenges. So how did Enugu secure its place as a 100 Resilient City alongside Paris, London and Chicago?

Regulating urbanisation

Nigeria’s cities are managed by each state, which makes it hard to regulate urbanisation. Recognising the city’s potential, the Enugu state government created Nigeria’s first city-specific development agency to manage its development, the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA). This is rare in Nigeria, where city-level governments do not exist. “It became evident that thinking strategically about how Enugu could become more resilient was critical to our city’s future and should be a key role of ECTDA,” said commissioner, Hon. IK Ugwuegede.

ECTDA works to administer the city’s assets and plan for its future. It manages city infrastructure and urban development planning and coordinates between state level government departments tasked with governing Enugu’s power supply, roads and services; all fundamental facets of resilience. However building a new agency from scratch is no easy task, so the Nigerian Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NIAF) worked alongside ECTDA offering technical assistance to support more effective city development planning and service delivery. Funded by the Department for International Development (DfiD) and implemented by Adam Smith International, NIAF works in partnership with the state governments to build capacity for resilient urban development.

It was an “innovative approach to urban resilience and commitment to a collaborative partnership that was deemed exceptional,” said Michael Berkowitz, 100 resilient cities president as Enugu secured its place as a Rockefeller Resilient City.

During 2015 Enugu will receive extensive support to develop a resilience strategy and implementation process that will secure its future. Now with Rockefeller Foundation and NIAF support, Enugu will become a flagship city that ensures urbanisation brings prosperity and resilience.