Urban Dialogues Virtual, September 10, 2021

Urban Africa Roundtable: Mainstreaming sustainable infrastructure investment in Africa through cities

Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and the African Centre for Cities host a series of roundtable discussions on potentials and prospects of sustainable infrastructure for African cities

To respond proactively to the imperatives of urbanisation, industrialisation, climate change, and demographic transition in Africa, there is a pressing need for investment in infrastructure and service delivery systems. Particularly in and around the larger metropolitan areas, there is mounting unmet demand for new infrastructure and the retrofit and rehabilitation of existing systems. Circulating discourses position African infrastructure, and particularly urban areas, as the next untapped investment frontier. However, what sort of infrastructure is seen to be ‘bankable’ by financial institutions? And how does that align with the sustainability needs of African cities and countries?

Against this backdrop, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and the African Centre for Cities (ACC) at University of Cape Town are embarking on an innovative process of knowledge co-production and action research. This research process includes the development of several position papers and two roundtable discussions.

The roundtable events will bring together invited representatives from multi-lateral financial institutions, development banks, and academic institutions to engage a discussion between financial actors and African urban experts. This discussion’s objectives are to develop a co-produced understanding of the opportunities to mainstream sustainable infrastructure into the portfolios and projects across the sector and to identify relevant measures to mobilize financing for urban development at all levels of government. In the same time, the roundtable events are aiming at building a community of like-minded finance sector actors, committed to improving the practice and transparency of the infrastructure finance sector.

The first roundtable event, taking place on 10 September, will kick off the series with a discussion on potentials and prospects of sustainable infrastructure in Africa. The participants will comprise finance experts and Africa-based urban researchers who are interested in collaboration, learning, sharing and experimentation and will debate questions of financing sustainable infrastructures in Africa, equally addressing sanitation, mobility, energy and digital infrastructures.   

The roundtables are taking place in the context of Urban Dialogues will be facilitated by Prof. Edgar Pieterse and Dr. Liza Rose Cirolia, from the African Centre for Cities. More information on upcoming roundtable events will be available here in due time.

For further inquiries, please contact Elisabeth Mansfeld.