Cities are key drivers of development. However, in the face of this positive portrayer, many cities around the world are experiencing socio-economic, environmental and climate change challenges. These problems are particularly severe in African countries, including Nigeria, where widespread unemployment, poverty, weak institutional structure and conflicts combine to make life difficult for the average urban dweller. These conditions can impact negatively on the country’s path towards sustainable urbanisation, economic prosperity and good governance.
Nigeria’s urban economy has the potential to survive and thrive by stimulating the ‘NCEG’ (The Nigerian City, Entrepreneur and Governance) structure. However, the current economic situation evidenced a weakened economic growth as the real gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell from 3.3% in 2022 to 2.4% year-on-year in Q1 2023. Furthermore, challenging global economic contexts such as the Ukrainian conflict has put pressure on Nigeria’s economy. Rapid population growth also increases the pressures on urban systems.
Several studies have shown that urban economies can only thrive in an atmosphere where the city, entrepreneur, and governance work as a system to promote measurable development impacting on the population and the wellbeing of citizens. From mineral extraction to agriculture, housing, urban infrastructure and services, urban residents and businesses are threatened by challenges of unfair trade practices, environmentally unfriendly extraction policies, neo-liberal governance frameworks and the ubiquitous land use policy that constrains wealth creation through land acquisition and use. Furthermore, the efforts and contributions of community led and local businesses are not recognised, documented or adequately supported.
Nonetheless, contextualizing urban governance and resilient economies to promote sustainable urbanisation using a cluster of ideas ranging from decentralization, entrepreneurialism to democratization is important for a growing economy towards achieving environmentally smart and resilient cities.
Therefore, the Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development on the celebration of this years World Habitat Day reiterates the urgency of recognising the benefits of Sustainable Urbanisation and prioritising targeted urban development education, practice and policy across Nigeria in order to catalyse economic development.
The Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development (CHSD) has carried out multiple research projects through research clusters on thematic areas including urban resilience, governance, economics, environmental management, climate change, land, housing, infrastructure and skills development. The outcome of these projects highlights the need to transcend current levels of individual resilience manifest in the micro-scale survival tactics of local communities. Efforts must be made to build institutional and city scale resilience.
The Centre therefore proposes the following strategies as catalysts for growth and recovery of the Nigerian economy starting at the city level:
Professor Timothy Nubi
October 2, 2023.