Charting the future: Highlights from Africa’s inaugural New Cities Summit

By Esther Muhozi
On 17 November 2023 at 02:31

The inaugural Africa’s New Cities Summit, held from November 16-18, serves as a platform for industry experts to foster collaboration and address the challenges arising from rapid urbanization across the continent.

Facilitated by the Charter Cities Institute in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Africa Infrastructure Development Association (AfIDA), the summit attracted global experts from diverse sectors within the international development community. Participants, including developers, builders, government representatives, and academics from various countries such as Germany, the Caribbean, Tanzania, Nigeria, the United States, and Zambia, convened to engage in dialogue and explore solutions to capitalize on urbanization-related opportunities.

The summit’s opening ceremony on November 16 featured welcome remarks by Kurtis Lockhart, Executive Director of Charter Cities Institute, and Nelly Mukazayire, Deputy CEO of the Rwanda Development Board. Subsequent to the ceremony, a series of New Cities Investment Catapult Presentations showcased upcoming projects, with visionaries and stakeholders critiquing and questioning presenters in front of a panel.

The panel of judges included notable figures such as Dr. Diane Karusisi, CEO of Bank of Kigali, Kingsley Mbah, Senior Managing Advisor and Capital Markets Specialist at AfrEximBank, Oliver Schaper, Design Director and Cities and Urban Design Leader at Gensler, and Preston Mendenhall, Executive Vice President and Country Head, Kenya, at Rendeavour.

One of the presentations highlighted Fumba Town, a flagship project by CPS Africa in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Milan Heilmann, the project manager, stressed the urgency of addressing Africa’s rapid urbanization, emphasizing the critical need for housing solutions. Fumba Town, which has already built over 600 residential units, aims to provide affordable and dignified housing, generating jobs, attracting investments, and garnering international interest. The project envisions constructing 5,000 residential units by 2032, creating permanent jobs, and reaching a total project volume of $500 million.

Another significant project discussed was the Enyimba Economic City in Nigeria, positioned to contribute to the country’s economic diversification. Dr. Darl Uzu, Founder and CEO of Crown Realties, underscored the importance of securing government support and maintaining stability amid political changes. The Enyimba Economic City, focusing on manufacturing, has identified specific sectors, such as electric vehicles and battery production, and secured partnerships with international entities, financial institutions, and FDIs from China, India, and Indonesia.

In addition, the Kigali Innovation City (KIC), a 62-hectare project supported by the Rwanda Development Board and Africa 50, was presented as a hub for technology and innovation. Craig Clulow, CEO of KIC, highlighted strategic partnerships with institutions like McKinsey, Savannah Durong, and financial institutions such as Qatar National Bank and Nedbank. KIC, dedicated to sustainability, aims for LEED Gold certification, with projects like a vaccine manufacturing plant and a pan-African internet exchange provider contributing to the diverse ecosystem it is building.

The Charter Cities Institute, in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Africa Infrastructure Development Association (AfIDA), organized the summit, drawing the participation of experts from diverse sectors within the international development community.