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15.05.2008 General News

Let’s Tackle Urban Inequalities Head-On - Baah-Wiredu

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, has called for a concerted effort from all stakeholders to tackling the problem of urbanisation, inequalities and poverty in Africa.

He said the problem could not be addressed by single institutions and therefore called on the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the donor community and the individual Africa countries to put meaningful resources together to find lasting solutions to the problem.

Speaking at a ministerial round table at the on-going African Development Bank meetings in Maputo, Mozambique, Mr Baah-Wiredu stated that countries must deliberately put in resources and make additional efforts to tackle the problem head-on.

He said increased investment and good governance supported by good infrastructure, education at all levels would be the surest way of dealing with the problem of urbanisation, inequalities and poverty on the continent.

The theme for this annual meeting of the bank is “Fostering shared growth: Urbanisation, Inequalities and Poverty in Africa ”.

This year's meeting like the past is being attended by high level dignitaries from Africa and other regions of the world, development experts from multilateral and bilateral organisations, non-governmental institutions, civil societies, the private sector and people from the academia.

Mr Baah-Wiredu also called for special support for women who were pursing various levels of learning, saying it was the surest way of reducing inequality and poverty in the society.

The Director of the Regional Office for Africa and Arab States of the UN-Habitat in Kenya, Mr Alioune Badiane, gave a graphic situation on the world slum areas and stated that slums in Africa were growing by the day and that if nothing was done the continent would be turned into a slum by the year 2030.

He said what had contributed to the situation included the lack of institutions, ineffective laws and regulations, the weak financial systems, corruption and the lack of political will to implement and enforce the minimum regulations.

In his opening statement, Dr Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, said it was sad that the majority of Africans who lived in absolute poverty were still largely rural inhabitants and challenged policy makers to focus on fighting poverty at the rural level.

According to conference documents, urban slums were not only eyesores, but they also posed multiple threats to the health and safety of their inhabitants.

The document stated that while urban poverty was certainly a factor contributing to the growth of slums, they were also the product of failed policies, bad governance, inappropriate legal and regulatory frameworks, dysfunctional land markets, unresponsive financial systems and lack of political will.

In most cities in Africa , it is difficult, if not impossible, for many poor urban dwellers to own or rent with any reasonable degree of tenure security.
 

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