The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s College of Law and Management Studies (CLMS) has been organising the biennial Business Management Conference (BMC) for nearly a decade now. In 2018, the College will host the Fifth BMC from Thursday 23 August to Friday 24 August at Protea Hotel Edward located along Durban’s popular beachfront, the Golden Mile. The theme of the conference is: “African Cities of the Future: Management and Legal Solutions.”
African cities face an array of problems ranging from poverty to high income inequalities, rising unemployment and growing rural-urban migration, among others. These problems have led to an increase in slums, poor sanitation, ill health, declining quality of life, violent conflict, and homelessness. Despite these problems, there are several African cities that are among the most developed metropolitans in the world and many more that are growing rapidly, catching-up with the frontrunners.
“Mining towns like Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tete in northern Mozambique are reportedly the fastest growing economic nodes on the continent. But apart from the virtues of growth, they carry the true characteristics of a frontier town, including significant social problems and stubbornly high levels of poverty,” KPMG (2018).
Cape Town in South Africa was named the best place to visit in the world by both The New York Times and The Telegraph in 2014. The City’s well developed infrastructure is also regarded by many as the best in Africa. In 2018, however, Cape Town is failing to cope with the effects of drought. It has been projected that the City’s taps will run dry from July 9, 2018 (popularly known as Day Zero) (February 2018 estimate). According to the South African Weather Service, 2015 and 2016 were the driest seasons in Cape Town since 1921 and the situation worsened the following year when the city recorded the driest ever season in its history in 2017. Cape Town is also home to Africa’s second largest slum, Khayelitsha, with an estimated population of 400,000.
The water problems, however, are not only confined to Cape Town, but are also prevalent in other African cities. In addition, the water supply problem is not only due to drought but a multiplicity of other factors too. According to Collington and Vezina (2000), even the largest international water enterprises have had to admit that they have found it difficult to respond to demand in squatter areas, as witnessed by the low coverage of piped water networks in African capital cities such as Bamako (Mali), Cotonou (Benin), and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). It is estimated that piped sewerage is but a distant dream for 90% of urban Africans (Collington and Vezina, 2000).
Nairobi in Kenya is regarded as one of the most developed cities in Africa, and certainly the economic hub of East Africa. The city, however, is facing an increasing growth of informal settlements. The city’s population has grown over the years from 11,500 inhabitants in 1906 to 3.1 million people in 2009 with more than half the population living in informal settlements and slums occupying less than 1% of Nairobi’s area and less than 5% in residential area (Mutisya and Yarime, 2011). Kibera informal settlement in South West Nairobi is known as the largest slum in Africa and the fourth largest in the world after Orangi Town in Karachi (Pakistani), Neza in Mexico City (Mexico) and Dharavi in Mumbai (India) India.
A megacity is conventionally defined as a large urban area with a population in excess of 10 million (Chang, Song and Lu, 2009). According to KPMG (2018), there are only three African cities that can be described as megacities, namely, Cairo, Kinshasa and Lagos. A host of other cities on the continent, including Johannesburg, Luanda, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Casablanca and Khartoum, are expected to become megacities within the foreseeable future.
The Business Management Conference
It is clear that African cities are growing at unprecedented rates. Problems facing these cities may be growing as well. An important question with profound policy implications is: what solutions can be prescribed for the African cities of the future? This is what has motivated the College of Law and Management Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) to organise the Business Management Conference on African cities of the future with particular attention to management and legal solutions to foreseen problems. The conference is expected to attract multidisciplinary academics and practitioners that will present and discuss interdisciplinary research on the envisioned African Cities of the Future. It is expected that sustainable solutions to the challenges facing African cities will be investigated in depth with the objective of effectively making them “the most liveable cities in the world.”
Challenges that need to be addressed, include congestion, infrastructure (water, housing, sanitation, and energy), food security, pollution, social disaggregation, unemployment, service delivery, crime, violence, and lawlessness, child and women vulnerability, health issues, environment, and proper urban planning and design, inter alia (University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2017). These challenges, according to the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2017), provide an opportunity for all disciplines to come together to work in an interdisciplinary, multi-disciplinary synergistic approach to find solutions which are unique and indigenous to the continent.
The dates for the BMC have been set in sync with the 12th American-African-European (AAE) Summer School in Durban that is scheduled to start on 13 August 2018 and end with the BMC. The summer school is being coordinated by UKZN’s School of Management, IT and Governance. It is expected that about 20-30 overseas students and staff attending the Summer School will also attend the conference. Clearly, the foreign contingent will make an important contribution to the international flavour of the multidisciplinary gathering at the conference.
Chang, D., Song, Y. and Lu, B. (2009). Visibility trends in six megacities in China 1973-2007. Atmostpheric Research 94(2):161-167.
Collignon, B. and Vézina, M. (2000). Independent Water and Sanitation Providers in African Cities: A ten-country study. Retrieved on 24 February 2018. URL:https://www.ircwash.org/sites/default/files/202.6-00IN-18938.pdf
KPMG (2018). African cities: Key challenges and rising urbanization. Retrieved on 23 February 2018. URL: http://www.blog.kpmgafrica.com/african-cities-key-challenges-and-rising-urbanisation/
Mutisya, E. and Yarime, A. (2011). Understanding the Grassroots Dynamics of Slums in Nairobi: The Dilemma of Kibera Informal Settlements. International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & Applied Sciences and Technologies. 2(2): 197-213
University of KwaZulu-Natal (2017). University of KwaZulu-Natal Strategic Plan 2017-2021. Unpublished document.